Auckland thump Otago to take top spot
Auckland went top of the State Championship table after crushing Otago by an innings and 84 runs in Queenstown. Auckland dominated the match right from the start, and had Otago's top-order wobbling on the first morning. Weakened by the absence of Craig Cumming, Otago mustered only 210 in the first innings with opener Leighton Morgan the lone batsman to go past 35. Former international Daryl Tuffey and in-form legspinner Tarun Nethula were the most effective bowlers in the first innings, taking four wickets each.
Auckland's reply got off to a strong start with openers Richard Jones and Tim McIntosh putting on 169. Jones went on to his fourteenth first-class century but McIntosh fell for a typically dour 74. Hundreds from Anaru Kitchen and Reece Young made sure the platform wasn't frittered away and helped Auckland pile up 534 for 7 before they declared.
Otago opener Hamish Rutherford was in a hurry to reduce the massive first-innings deficit, but was lbw to Andy McKay for a 35-ball 37. Neil Broom was the only other batsman to offer resistance, continuing his impressive season with a brisk 79. Auckland didn't have the services of experienced fast bowler Chris Martin in the second innings, but that didn't stop them from bowling out Otago for 240.
The innings victory gave them eight points, taking them two clear of previous leaders Central Districts, who were held to a draw by Wellington in Napier. Wellington had been reduced to 131 for 5 after choosing to bat but were rescued by a 138-run stand between Chris Nevin and James Franklin. Franklin fell for 76, but Nevin carried on to 134 and with the lower-order batsmen chipping in with useful cameos, Wellington finished on 410.
Central Districts were without two of their heaviest scorers this season, Peter Ingram and Brad Patton, but were bolstered by the inclusion of Indian batsman M Vijay, who top-scored with 93. Captain Mathew Sinclair also made a half-century, and Bevan Griggs contributed with 43, but with four of the top six making less than 20, Central Districts were 114 behind after the first innings. Left-arm medium-pacer Dewayne Bowden took four wickets and Franklin snared three.
Franklin's superb match continued when he made 107 to move second in the run-getters chart for the season and steer Wellington to 299. Central Districts had to reach an impossible 414 in two-and-a-half hours to get any points out of the match. It was called off after Central Districts reached 174 for 1 in 59 overs, Jamie How helping himself to a century and George Worker making a patient 63.
In a match between the bottom two sides, Kane Williamson sparked a dramatic Canterbury collapse on the way to his maiden five-wicket haul to earn Northern Districts a six-wicket victory in Christchurch.
There were three half-centuries in Canterbury's first innings, captain Kruger van Wyk top scoring with 67, but they still managed only 246. Tim Southee shrugged off a poor one-day series against India to take five wickets, and Brett Arnel finished with 4 for 38 to make his case for Test selection.
Daniel Flynn warmed up for the Tests with a 104 and opener Brad Wilson made a measured 109 to lead Central Districts' reply. There was also a half-century for Williamson, but Canterbury took the last five wickets for 24 runs to limit the first-innings lead to 137.
Centuries from Michael Papps and Peter Fulton led a spirited Canterbury fightback. From a healthy lead of 130 with only one wicket down, Canterbury then crumbled in even more spectacular fashion than Central Districts. They lost their last eight wickets for 42 to set a target of 173, which was knocked off with six wickets to spare.