Scott Styris stars in Auckland win
An all-round masterclass from Scott Styris gave Auckland an 18-run win against Northern Districts at the Colin Maiden Park. The visitors elected to field first, a decision that met with immediate success as Tillakaratne Dilshan ran out Lou Vincent in the first ball of the match. Soon after, Ravi Bopara was accounted for by Tim Southee to reduce the score to 21 for 2 in the fourth over. That set the stage for Scott Styris who steadied the innings with a knock of tempered aggression. Wickets fell around him as Bradley Scott and Daniel Vettori made regular dents to the line-up, but Styris held an end up and kept the score-board moving with a bustling 59 off 38 balls. Colin de Granhomme swung 24 in 9 balls to give the innings a fillip before it ended at 154 in the last over.
Peter McGlashan and Tillakaratne Dilshan got the chase off to a quick start before Styris had a say for the second time in the match. He sent back both openers, while de Grandhomme got rid of Daniel Vettori to change the course of the innings from 43 for 0 to 52 for 3 in 14 balls. Things never improved from there for Northern as Roneel Hira got into the act and wickets began to tumble too frequently. Things looked over and out at 87 for 8 before Joseph Yovich and Scott delayed the end with a 42-run stand. Hira ended with four wickets, but Styris was the hero for Auckland.
Table-toppers Otago were handed a surprise defeat by Canterbury in a high-scoring encounter at the University Oval in Dunedin. After winning the toss, Otago got off to a roaring start as openers Hamish Rutherford and Brendon McCullum punishing the new ball. 63 runs had come in 39 balls when Rutherford departed to Carl Frauenstein's medium-pace. McCullum kept the intensity up, smashing five sixes and four fours in his 44-ball 64, before Andrew Ellis, who had gone for plenty early on, came back to dismiss in. There was however no respite for Canterbury as Craig Cumming carried on the blitz, hitting a 29-ball 53 to ensure a strong finish. When Nathan McCullum launched the last ball of the innings for a six, his side ended with a steep score of 185.
Canterbury's reply got into early trouble, when Rob Nicol succumbed in the third over to Yasir Arafat. Peter Fulton and Michael Papps launched a platform for the chase, adding 37 in 26 balls before Neil Wagner struck for the first out of three times in the evening. Canterbury required someone to play a hand similar to Brendon McCullum, and Shanan Stewart did just that. Coming in at four, Stewart gave the innings impetus, launching three sixes and five fours in his 56 before he was fourth out in the 17th over at 148. Criag McMillan and Johann Myburgh underlined Canterbury's batting depth, hitting four fours and two sixes, adding 40 in 15 balls to finish the game in a hurry. Despite a result that upset the formbook, the sides maintained their places at the two ends of the table.
In a day of upsets, Wellington humbled Central Districts with a dominant batting display set up by their openers at the Basin Reserve. Central Disctricts will rue their decision to field, as the home openers took their attack to the cleaners. Fifty came in the fifth over as Neal Parlane shredded the attack, scoring 67 at better than two runs per ball. Cameron Merchant contributed 44 off 36, but was totally overshadowed by Parlane who had eight boundary-hits and four of them over the ropes. Jacob Oram took maximum stick, going for 54 in his four overs. Parlane was the first to go, having added 115 for the opening wicket in ten overs. Owais Shah, James Franklin and Chris Nevin chipped in with handy contributions that kept up the run rate to finish with 205.
Central's reply was stunted at the roots, with Jamie How and Ross Taylor fell in the second and third overs respectively. Peter Ingram counterattacked with an exciting 55 that brought his side roaring back into the match. Mathew Sinclair provided able support at the other end as 100 came in the ninth over. Things changed drastically in a manic passage of play triggered by Ingram's dismissal, Mark Houghton breaching his defences. Paul Hitchcock ran through the middle order, picking 3 for 17 as four wickets fell in the space of 18 runs. Even as the innings lost its spark, light faded at the ground, and the match was called off without resumption, with Central 19 short of a winning score.