McClenaghan, Quinn bowl Auckland to big win
Auckland 316 (de Grandhomme 70, Cachopa 61, Ellis 3-54) and 158 for 1 (Guptill 84*) beat Canterbury 149 (McClenaghan 4-38, Quinn 3-34) and 321 (Carter 79, McClure 50, Quinn 4-81, McClenaghan 3-68) by nine wickets
Auckland's fast bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan and Matthew Quinn picked up seven wickets each, setting the tone for Auckland's nine-wicket victory against Canterbury. Auckland were also buoyed by half-centuries from Colin de Grandhomme, Brad Cachopa and Martin Guptill, as the team opened their Plunket Shield campaign strongly.
Canterbury, after being inserted, failed to string together any meaningful partnership, and were bundled out for 149, as McClenaghan (4 for 38) and Quinn (3 for 34) ran through the line-up in 48.1 overs. Auckland found themselves struggling at 50 for 3 in their reply, but three big stands - 82 for the fourth wicket between de Grandhomme (70) and Rob Nicol, 68 for the fifth between Nicol and Cachopa (61), and 68 for the eighth between Tarun Nethul and Michael Bates - ensured the hosts posted a total of 316 to collect a lead of 167.
Canterbury fared better in the second innings, thanks mainly to a 109-run partnership between Leo Carter (79) and Ken McClure (50), but once again, regular strikes from McClenaghan and Quinn prevented the visitors from pulling away with a large score. Canterbury were eventually bowled out for 321, meaning that Auckland needed just 155 for victory, a total the hosts chased down in 37 overs thanks to Guptill's unbeaten 94-ball 84.
Otago 352 (Neesham 131, Rutherford 79, Bracewell 5-67) and 265 for 3 (Broom 131*, Wilson 83) drew with Central Districts 650 for 8 (Ben Smith 244, Worker 129, Bruce 71)
A maiden double-century from Central Districts' 24-year-old batsman Ben Smith was the highlight of their drawn game against Otago in Napier. In a game that saw 1267 runs scored, it was Otago, opting to bat, who made the early running. Buoyed by a 157-run stand between Sam Wells and James Neesham, the hosts compiled 352. Neesham went on to make 131 off 152 balls, while Otago were also lifted by handy half-centuries from Hamish Rutherford (79*) and Wells (62). Doug Bracewell was the pick of Central Districts' bowlers, collecting 5 for 67.
Central Districts lost Greg Hay early in their reply, but Smith battled on for more than eight hours, scoring 244 off 368 balls, with 29 fours and a six. He shared a mammoth 234-run stand for the fourth wicket with George Worker, who made 129. Will Young (62) and Tom Bruce (71) also chipped in with half-centuries, as Central Districts eventually declared on 650 for 8.
With a lead of 298, Central Districts had nearly 90 overs to bowl Otago out and seal an innings win, and looked well on course to doing that by removing Rutherford and Ryan Duffy early. However, Neil Broom held firm, scoring a patient 131, and put on a 204-run partnership with Brad Wilson to guide his team to safety. Otago were 265 for 3 when stumps were called.
Northern Districts 429 (Flynn 102, Hutchinson 5-116) drew with Wellington 267 ( Ronchi 115, Southee 5-56) and 409 for 9 (Murdoch 93, Boult 5-97)
Right-arm seamer Dane Hutchinson also picked up a five-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, to clean up the Northern Districts tail but by then the first-innings lead had passed 150.
Captain Daniel Flynn and Kane Williamson gave Northern Districts a strong base, adding 148. While Williamson became the first of Jeetan Patel's three victims, Flynn went on to make 102 off 239 balls. Bharat Popli and BJ Watling also scored fifties to steer their side to 429 before Hutchinson became the first Wellington bowler to take a hat-trick since Stephen Hotter in 1997.
However, it could not mask the top-order failure in the first innings. Having been inserted, Wellington were reduced to 47 for 5 inside 18 overs with Southee doing the bulk of the damage. However, a rearguard stand of 108 between Tom Blundell and Luke Ronchi helped the visitors recover to 267. Luke Ronchi was the eighth man dismissed for 115 off 112 balls.
The batting line-up fared much better in the second innings with each of their batsmen, with the exception of No.9 reaching double-figures. Boult accounted for Stephen Murdoch (93), Blundell (46), and Ronchi (15) but Wellington nudged past 400 before stumps on the fourth day.