Central Districts romp to third outright win
Central Districts further strengthened their place at the top of the points table, after cruising to a six-wicket victory over Auckland at Colin Maiden Park, their third outright win. The platform for Central Districts' success was set up when they restricted Auckland to just 180 in the first innings. Tim Weston then weighed in with an unbeaten century at No. 5 that gave Central Districts a crucial first-innings lead.
Central Districts had earlier elected to field under cloudy skies. Auckland began badly and at 75 for 4, looked in danger of being bowled out cheaply. However, a 58-run fifth-wicket partnership between Greg Todd and Bradley Cachopa steadied the innings. Once Todd fell for 42, the Auckland batsmen failed to string together any substantial partnerships - their final five wickets fell for just 47. Doug Bracewell and Tarun Nethula were the bowling stars sharing seven wickets between them.
In their reply, Central Districts lost two wickets within the first three overs and were in real danger of conceding the first-innings lead after slumped to 127 for 7. However, Weston scored a fluent unbeaten 115 off 149 balls with 11 boundaries, and with handy contributions from Seth Rance, Nethula and Mitchell McClenaghan lower down the order, they reached 296, giving them an important 116-run first-innings lead.
Auckland started their second-innings disastrously, losing opener Jeet Raval off the first ball. Anaru Kitchen (96) narrowly missed a century, and Cachopa chipped in with a half-century to ensure there was no repeat of the first-innings collapse, helping Auckland post 301. Central Districts were left with a target of 186, which they reached with ease thanks to Peter Ingram's 76. They are now at the top of the table with 24 points and have a commanding 14-point lead.
At the Basin Reserve, Wellington's push for an outright win was thwarted by a combination of some stodgy lower-order resistance from Otago, which was followed by a flurry of early wickets when Wellington began their chase. Wellington were 225 for 6 in pursuit of 314 when the game ended in a draw.
Aaron Redmond and Craig Cumming got Otago off to a good start after being put in to bat, raising 104. However, both fell in quick succession and Otago never really got going after that. With none of the other batsmen crossing 20, an under-par first-innings score of 207 handed Wellington the early advantage.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Wellington, though, who lost wickets at regular intervals, and slumped to 168 for 8 before the lower-order began the recovery. Michael Pollard led with an invaluable 90, and pushed Wellington to 320.
Otago then set about proving that the first-innings collapse was a blip, with strong contributions from Neil Broom (77), Nick Beard (62), Sam Wells (82), Derek de Boorder (62) and Neil Wagner (55) in a second-innings score of 426. Wellington needed a good start if they were to have a chance in the tough chase, and when left-armer Wagner reduced them to 20 for 3, they switched to looking to save the game. They eventually limped to 225 for 6 and the match ended in a draw.
Fast bowler Mitchell Claydon and legspinner Todd Astle led a crushing bowling performance from Canterbury as they thrashed Northern Districts by an innings and 114 runs for their first win of the tournament at the Cobham Oval. Opener Rob Nicol's century gave Canterbury a huge lead after Northern Districts were dismissed for 119, and Astle took six wickets in the second innings as Northern Districts collapsed to 93.
They had seemingly recovered from a poor start on the first morning after being inserted by Canterbury to reach 49 for 1. But Claydon bowled opener Brad Wilson for 19, and it all went awry for Northern Districts after that. Andrew Ellis, the fast bowler, ran through the middle order with three wickets, and Claydon returned to finish off the innings for 119, taking the last two wickets. Canterbury began with a 69-run opening stand, and Nicol - who has played two Twenty20s for New Zealand - ensured they seized complete control with his ninth first-class century. Tom Latham and Astle made significant contributions in the lower middle order to boost their side to 326, despite left-arm fast bowler Bradley Scott's 3 for 55.
Needing 207 to make Canterbury bat again, Northern Districts lost their openers to an initial burst from Claydon, after which Astle took over. Northern Districts had no answer to his legbreaks as he scythed through the middle and lower orders on his way to a career-best 6 for 28. Joseph Yovich's 25 was the highest score as Northern Districts hurtled to a huge defeat, losing their last six wickets for 21 runs.