Nicol stars as Canterbury complete close win
Wellington won the toss and elected to field but it was Canterbury who got off to a good start with openers Rob Nicol and Peter Fulton (25) putting on 65 in the first six overs before Fulton was dismissed. Nicol celebrated his inclusion in New Zealand's preliminary 30-man squad for the 2011 World Cup by top-scoring with a blistering 85 off 48 balls. Handy contributions from Dean Brownlie (22) and Michael Papps (33), together with Johan van der Wath's cameo of 22 off just 9 balls at the end carried Canterbury to a competitive 207 for 6 off their allotted overs.
Wellington started their chase in positive fashion with Jesse Ryder and England import Luke Wright putting on 115 in the first 9 overs. van der Wath struck to pick up the crucial wicket of Wright and Canterbury were soon back in the game as Carl Frauenstein dismissed Ryder and had Grant Elliot run out in quick succession. James Franklin and Stewart Rhodes tried to get Canterbury's chase back on track with a 49-run fourth-wicket partnership. However Canterbury lost the momentum when Frauenstein picked up the crucial wicket of Franklin. They needed 26 runs off 15 balls but failed to get over the line as they only managed to reach 202 for 4.
Central Districts left-arm spinners George Worker and English import Ian Blackwell led them to a comfortable win over Northern Districts at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. CD needed only 17.3 overs to chase ND's 110 and pick up a six-wicket win. The win means CD are level with their opponents on points at second in the table, with just one more round of games to be played before the final.
Worker and Blackwell took five wickets between them for 35 runs in eight overs, and stalled a Northern Districts innings that was motoring on till the last ball of the eighth over when Herschelle Gibbs was trapped lbw by Blackwell for 7. That left Northern Districts at 67 for 2. Another left-arm spinner, England's Michael Yardy, then picked up the big wicket of Brad Wilson (37) in the next over. Worker got into the act in the tenth over, taking the wickets of Anton Devcich and James Marshall to leave ND in trouble at 71 for 5.
Scott Styris tried to lead a recovery with his 19, but failed to receive any support as none of the remaining six batsmen reached double figures as ND were all out in 18.5 overs. Worker finished with 3 for 18. A large chunk of the early runs came off fast bowler Adam Milne, who was named in New Zealand's Twenty20 squad for their series against Pakistan. He went at 11.50 in his two overs.
Central Districts' chase suffered two early setbacks after fast bowler Graeme Aldridge dismissed Peter Ingram and Worker to leave them at 13 for 2. Captain Jamie How steadied the ship with his 35, and Ross Taylor, who will captain New Zealand in the Twenty20s against Pakistan, took his team home with 35 off 29.