Barnett guides Central Districts to win
Wellington v Central Districts Day 4
In a repeat of the result of last year's final, Central Districts beat Wellington outright. Chasing a modest 227 on a wicket that offered the seamers encouragement throughout, Central stuttered briefly but always looked favourites to get there. Opener Geoff Barnett laid the foundation with a gritty 78. Nobody else in the top order passed 20 until Ewen Thompson, batting at number eight, scored 40 from 43 balls, including two sixes. The importance of his knock can not be downplayed. Thompson came to the crease at the dismissal of Barnett with Central teetering slightly at 167 for 6. However, his boldness and Bevan Griggs' resilience (19 not out from 48 balls), guided Central to maximum points. Griggs finished with a useful match double after scoring 58 in the first innings. He also took five catches behind the stumps in Wellington's second innings. James Franklin and Test hopeful Mark Gillespie took three wickets each, though Gillespie was expensive in the context of this match.
Auckland v Otago Day 3
Auckland's burst of four wickets late on the second evening looks more and more like an anomaly as the runs pile up at this batter-friendly venue. Neil Broom and Gareth Hopkins took their fifth-wicket partnership through to 219 before Broom fell to Chris Martin for 112. Wicketkeeper Hopkins continued on his merry way, securing a century after 199 balls and a few nervous moments on 99. He was ably supported by Lancastrian Kyle Hogg who must have walked out to bat with some trepidation after failing to score on a similar batsman's paradise during the first round match against Canterbury. As it is there must be a few red faces among Otago's top order after such a pitiful collapse. When rain stopped play late in the day, Hogg was on 53 and Hopkins 139 - but then Otage declared, which could prove an imaginative decision.
Canterbury v Northern Districts Day 3
Northern have only Daniel Vettori's allround abilities to thank for this match continuing into the fourth day. Vettori propped up a disappointing Northern effort with 86 - he was last man out - as the visitors collapsed against Shane Bond. Bond, playing his first match for the province this season, took 5 for 37 off 19.3 well-directed overs to decimate a Northern side that began the innings just two runs adrift of Canterbury. They soon found themselves marooned at 81 for 6, Hamish Marshall giving more headaches to the New Zealand selectors with his 19-ball innings of 1. Vettori was supported by Peter McGlashan who eked out a painstaking 13 from 65 deliveries before falling to Craig McMillan.
Dylan Cleaver is senior sports writer of Herald on Sunday.