Canterbury steal tie with late burst
Canterbury grabbed three wickets off the final three deliveries of the match to steal a tie against Auckland at Colin Maiden Park. Auckland needed only five runs in the final over, bowled by Carl Frauenstein, to overhaul Canterbury's 287 and that became one off three. But Anaru Kitchen and Lance Shaw were bowled off consecutive balls to leave last-man Michael Bates the task of making the winning run off the last ball. Bates could not complete the job, hitting the ball to Shane Bond who combined with Johann Myburgh to force a run out and save Canterbury.
It was a stunning comeback by Canterbury who looked all but out of the contest when Auckland were in with a good chance at 268 for 5 at the start of the 47th over. But a double-strike by Shane Bond in the space of three balls made things interesting, before the biggest drama of the day came in the last over.
The nerve-wracking finale overshadowed a century by Michael Papps, who was involved in two big partnerships, 82 with Peter Fulton for the second wicket and 91 with Myburgh for the third, to lead Canterbury's charge. Papps was finally dismissed for 122 in the 47th over after hitting 11 fours and three sixes. Ravi Bopara was the most effective bowler with 3 for 44. Bopara was among the runs as well, hitting a 51-ball 53 and adding 87 for the third wicket with Reece Young. Scott Styris and Gareth Hopkins piled on 93 for the fifth to keep Auckland within reach of the target, before Bond struck. The result leaves Auckland still firmly on top of the table, and Canterbury remains two points short of third place.
There was another thrilling game at Whangarei where Northern Districts snatched a two-wicket win against Central Districts. Chasing a middle of the road 241, it was anybody's game in the 48th over when Northerns lost their eighth wicket with 17 required off 16 balls. However, Graeme Aldridge and Bradley Scott saw them through the tense final moments and reached the target with three balls to spare.
Earlier, Central were led by Mathew Sinclair's 62 and his partnership of 90 for the fourth wicket with Timothy Weston. Aldridge was among the wickets as well, taking 3 for 40 to restrict Centrals to 240. Kane Williamson led the chase with 77 and his stand of 106 for the third wicket with Michael Parlane kept them in the hunt. But Graham Napier's three wickets in three overs brought Central back into the game. Another strike by Michael Mason in the 48th over added to the drama before Northern's ninth-wicket pair completed the win.