Northern Districts cruise to ten-wicket win
Northern Districts (ND) recorded the first win of the Plunket Shield by brushing aside Otago by ten wickets in Dunedin. This was a success put into motion on the opening day when Brent Arnel took 6 for 18 in ten overs to roll Otago for 88 inside 30 overs. Following that outstanding display from Arnel, ND's batsmen racked up a total of 410, with Joseph Yovich weighing in with an unbeaten 128. His dismissal left ND 195 for 7, but Graeme Aldridge (52) and Bradley Scott (65) frustrated Otago with a 99-run partnership.
Otago captain Craig Cumming and Leighton Morgan posted an encouraging 139 for the first wicket before stumps on day two, but a deficit of 322 proved daunting. Morgan's dismissal for 51 left Cumming seeking further stability but it was not to happen. Otago lost six wickets for 87 runs and Cumming's 16th first-class century failed to prevent a ten-wicket defeat. ND knocked off the 13 needed to win and collected maximum points with more than a day to spare.
Overseas import Kruger Van Wyk helped bat Canterbury to safety against Wellington at the Basin Reserve, thereby ensuring Chris Nevin's 100th first-class match ended in anticlimax. Set 255 for an outright win, Canterbury were 191 for 6 at the close, having been 91 for 6 on the final afternoon. van Wyk hit an unbeaten 85 in a key seventh-wicket stand with Andrew Ellis before bad light curtailed play seven overs before the scheduled close.
Canterbury had secured first-innings points when they crossed Wellington's 214 - Chris Martin's 4 for 35 had put them in the driver's seat - but it wasn't easy. Martin's fellow Test campaigner Iain O'Brien bowled well to take 5 for 75 and limit Canterbury to 222. Wellington fared better in their second innings, though Cameron Merchant was dismissed one run short of a maiden century. Leighton Burtt, the medium-pacer, unsettled Merchant with a bounce and a few words and the next ball, a full toss, was clipped straight to square leg. With a lead of 193 at stumps, and three wickets in hand, Wellington were dismissed for 262 and that left Canterbury 255 to chase. They slipped up before van Wyk took over the innings and batted out a draw.
Tim McIntosh reminded the national selectors of his talent with a handy innings that guided Auckland to a draw against Central Districts in Napier. His 67 in just over three hours at the crease forced the umpires to call a draw before tea on the final day after Auckland had conceded first-innings points on day three. Andrew de Boorder's maiden first-class century had formed the crux of Auckland's total of 403 after they opted to bat, but Mathew Sinclair's 28th century came to CD's rescue in tense circumstances. Sinclair, who crossed 11,000 first-class runs in the process of scoring 165, was dismissed with CD five short of overhauling Auckland's total and it needed the No. 10 Kieran Noema-Barnett 's unbeaten 32 to take them past the mark and to two crucial points.
Auckland's second innings was carried by McIntosh and Richard Jones, who added 138 for the first wicket, but it was a ultimately an alliance of little consequence. McIntosh, who struggled during New Zealand's tour of Sri Lanka in August, gained timely batting practice by facing 149 balls. Auckland were 232 for 3 when stumps were drawn with a session remaining, a lead of 217.