Auckland battle to win bowler-dominated contest
Auckland 284 (Brad Cachopa 67, Grobbelaar 62, Aldridge 5-52) and 211 for 5 (Raval 90, Carl Cachopa 52) beat Northern Districts 253 (Kuggeleijn 67, Santner 57, Quinn 3-63) and 241 (Devcich 64) by five wickets
The bowlers held sway at Cobham Oval in Whangarei, where neither team passed 300 in four innings and Auckland chased a target of 211 on the final day to beat a depleted Northern Districts by five wickets.
Northern Districts were missing fast bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee, and batsman Dean Brownlie, all of whom were on New Zealand duty against South Africa. They were also without Kane Williamson, who is recovering from an injured wrist, and they struggled after choosing to bat. Auckland reduced them to 82 for 5 before half-centuries from Mitchell Santner and Scott Kuggeleijn lifted the score past 200. Northern Districts were dismissed for 253 in 83 overs early on the second day.
Auckland also struggled at the start of their first innings, losing three wickets cheaply before four batsmen - Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Brad Cachopa and Donovan Grobbelaar - made half-centuries to give their side the lead. None of them were able to kick on and make a hundred though. Auckland had first slipped from 147 for 3 to 149 for 6, and then they went from 261 for 6 to 284 all out. Graeme Aldridge claimed the last three wickets in hurry to limit Auckland's lead to 31 and finish with a five-wicket haul.
Northern Districts made a bright start to their second innings on the third day. Their openers wiped out the deficit during a partnership of 90, with Anton Devcich going on to make 64. And then the collapse came. Northern Districts lost four wickets to slip to 144 for 4, and after a brace of 40s from Bharat Popli and BJ Watling, they crumbled again - from 212 for 5 to 241 all out - setting Auckland a target of 211.
Auckland lost their captain Rob Nicol early in the chase but a 90 from opener Jeet Raval and a half-century from No. 3 Carl Cachopa put the innings firmly on track for victory.