Plunket Shield 2015-16 February 8, 2016

Borthwick, Arnel star as Wellington go top

ESPNcricinfo staff

File photo - Returning to action after recovering from a foot injury, Tim Southee sent down 23 overs across two innings for Northern Districts © Getty Images

Michael Bates' 5 for 48 followed by Colin de Grandhomme's unbeaten 106 in the second innings shaped Auckland's comfortable five-wicket win over Canterbury in Christchurch.

After conceding a 15-run lead in the first innings, Donovan Grobbelaar removed Canterbury's openers early, after which Bates helped topple the middle and lower order, reducing them to 66 for 6. Wicketkeeper Cam Fletcher then dropped anchor with an unbeaten 77, and combined with Tim Johnston (49) to add 67 runs for the ninth wicket to stem Canterbury's collapse. None of Canterbury's top seven managed a score above 20, which resulted in their being dismissed for 222, setting Auckland a target of 238.

Auckland stumbled to 81 for 4 in their chase, but de Grandhomme came in and took control of Auckland's innings with a brisk century that included 11 fours and two sixes. He found good company in Robert O'Donnell as they added 116 for the fifth wicket to take Auckland close to 200 and set them on course for the win.

In the first innings, Canterbury reached 294 on the back of Tom Latham's 65 and Johnston's 64-ball 76 in the lower order. In response, Michael Guptill-Bunce top-scored for Auckland with 93 and N McAndrew chipped in with a lower-order 65, but Ed Nuttall's 5 for 72 restricted them to 279.

Centuries from Bharat Popli and Daryl Mitchell, and an eight-wicket match haul from Scott Kuggeleijn helped Northern Districts topple Central Districts by 284 runs in Napier.

Ish Sodhi (62) and Popli built on Northern Districts' 12-run first-innings lead with a 93-run fourth-wicket partnership, after which Popli (133, 191b, 15x4) built a 98-run stand with Mitchell to take Northern Districts past 300. Mitchell then steered Northern Districts past 400 with an unbeaten 119-ball 100 that contained eight fours and four sixes. Despite losing Sodhi in the second innings, after he was called up to New Zealand's ODI side and replaced by Joe Walker, Northern Districts' bowling attack did not suffer, with Kuggeleijn's strikes helping restrict Central Districts in both innings. Returning to action after recovering from a foot injury, Tim Southee sent down 23 overs in the match, picking up a wicket in each innings.

Northern Districts were driven to 268 in the first innings by Tim Seifert's maiden first-class century. He built a 92-run stand with Kuggeleijn to lift Northern Districts late in the innings. In response, Dane Cleaver top-scored for Northern Districts with 66 and Seth Rance chipped in with 52 but Kuggeleijn's 4 for 82 restricted Central Districts to 256.

Dane Hutchinson and Matthew Bacon's tight bowling performance in the second innings and Brent Arnel's 5 for 59 in the first helped Wellington clinch a 102-run win over Otago in Queenstown to climb to the top of the Plunket Shield table.

Having set Otago 391 to win, Hutchinson and Bacon cut through their top order to help dismiss them for 288. None of Otago's top five managed a fifty in their chase. Jimmy Neesham (65) and Derek de Boorder (50*) lifted the side with a 73-run sixth-wicket stand, but it wasn't enough, with Neesham falling with the score at 180. Scott Borthwick then helped clean up the tail, and sealed an easy win for Wellington.

Borthwick's 102 and captain Michael Papps' 85 in the first innings steered Wellington to a commanding 348, despite Neil Wagner's 5 for 101. In response Hamish Rutherford top-scored for Otago with 70, but Arnel's five-for restricted them to 240. Fraser Colson's 97 and Papps' 60, helped Wellington build on their first-innings lead of 108, to help them declare on 282 for 8, even as Mark Craig picked up figures of 5 for 79.

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