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February 20, 2008
Canterbury will host Otago in the State Shield semi-final on Sunday after sneaking to a two-wicket win over Wellington at the Basin Reserve. Canterbury reached their target of 222 with four balls and two wickets to spare following a strong start from Iain Robertson (53) and Johann Myburgh (57). Dewayne Bowden and Mark Gillespie each collected 2 for 41 to slow Canterbury's progress but the ninth pair, Shane Bond and Leighton Burtt, finished the job. Burtt had taken two wickets as Wellington reached 9 for 221. Stephen Fleming made 57 and Matthew Bell added 50 but a late collapse of 6 for 45 checked the home team's scoring.
The winner of the semi-final will take on Auckland in the decider and the hosts will carry momentum into the game following their three-wicket win over Central Districts in Auckland. Gareth Hopkins was the home side's hero after they slumped to 4 for 18 chasing 255. Ewen Thompson's three early strikes rattled the competition leaders until Hopkins turned the game on its head with his unbeaten 130 from 123 balls. His 110-run stand with Martin Guptill began the recovery and Roneel Hira (44 not out) helped Hopkins over the line following some more late stumbles. Hira had been Auckland's star with the ball, grabbing 3 for 29 from his ten overs as his team-mates leaked runs. Mathew Sinclair made 89 and Peter Ingram scored 59 but their efforts were to no avail.
James Marshall's unbeaten 111 was not enough for Northern Districts as they fell four runs short against Otago in Invercargill. Chasing 247, the visitors reached 8 for 242 from their 50 overs, with Marshall finding little support during his 134-ball innings. It completed a poor tournament for Northern Districts, who finished on the bottom of the table despite providing three of the season's top five run scorers: Marshall, BJ Watling and Daniel Flynn. Otago's score was just too tall and they secured their place in the semi-final thanks largely to the contributions of Greg Todd (67) and Nathan McCullum (63).
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