Otago sneak home in thriller
Wellington's poor run continued as they failed to defend 299 against Canterbury in Christchurch. Shanan Stewart blazed 101 off 78 balls and his stand of 169 with Dean Brownlie (86*) took the game away from Wellington. The Wellington top order came good with Michael Pollard and Stewart Rhodes hitting fifties to lead a strong start. They added 96 for the first wicket at a fast clip before Cameron Merchant and Neal Parlane added 53 for the third. Parlane helped himself to a fifty, as did Luke Woodcock, whose 53 off 29 balls gave the innings a surge towards the end. Carl Frauenstein, the right-arm seamer, was the most effective bowler with 3 for 44. Canterbury didn't get off to the best of starts, losing two wickets for 25. But Rob Nicol and Johann Myburgh gave the chase some direction with a stand of 75 and that partnership laid the platform for Stewart and Brownlie to press the pedal. With this win, Canterbury are now in third place.
It was a closer finish in Whangarei , where Northern Districts, led by Kane Williamson's 81, completed a three-wicket win over tournament leaders Auckland. Chasing 240, Williamson piloted the innings with stands of 119 and 79 with Hamish Marshall and Joseph Yovich respectively. However, a double strike by Pieter Erasmus in one over added a late twist before the eighth-wicket pair guided Northerns to the target. Marshall hit a brisk 66 off 52 balls while Williamson played a more patient knock, facing 139 balls for his 81. His innings overshadowed Ravi Bopara's 89 for Auckland. Despite the defeat, Auckland retained their position at the top.
Pukekura Park in New Plymouth was host to the most thrilling game of the day as Otago scraped home by two wickets against Central Districts. Chasing 254, Otago were struggling at 200 for 8 but Anthony Bullick and Greg Todd hit quick 30s to steer them through the tense final moments. It was a game to remember for Bullick, the right-arm fast bowler, who earlier took 4 for 60. Bevan Griggs and Brendon Diamanti hit half-centuries to lead Central's charge. Diamanti and Ewen Thompson gave the innings a late surge with a stand of 69 in just under seven overs. Darren Broom's 73 put Otago on track but the loss of three wickets for 24 runs gave Central's hope. When the eighth wicket fell at 200, it looked to be slipping away from Otago but Bullick and Todd put on a fearless, match-turning stand.