Bowlers, Ellis set up easy Canterbury win
Andrew Ellis smacked a fast-paced 143 in Canterbury's first innings to shape his side's eight-wicket win over Northern Districts in Hamilton. Ellis also chipped in with the ball, taking five wickets in the match, including 3 for 43 in the second innings.
Ellis' 170-ball knock, which included 13 fours and eight sixes, reinforced Canterbury's advantage after they had bowled Northern Districts out for 257 in the first innings. Northern Districts had stabilised after early wickets through a 68-run partnership between Dean Brownlie and Bharat Popli (55) but suffered a batting implosion, losing seven wickets for 69 runs. It was Daryl Mitchell's 84 that pulled them past the 200-mark to a score of 257. For Canterbury, Todd Astle claimed 3 for 87, while Hamish Bennett and Ellis picked up two wickets apiece.
Ellis' hundred was complemented by Ken McClure's 96 and an 81 from Cam Fletcher. McClure and Ellis were involved in a 235-run, fifth-wicket stand that hauled the side to safety from a precarious 77 for 4. Once the pair were dismissed, Fletcher led the side's rally, guiding them to a score of 485. Legspinner Ish Sodhi was the pick of Northern Districts' bowlers, picking up 5 for 167, backed up by Scott Kuggeleijn's 4 for 133.
Northern Districts batsmen got starts but only Popli (94) and Kuggeleijn (53) went on to make substantial scores as they were dismissed for 316. Canterbury brushed aside their target of 89 in 17 overs and climbed to second place on the points table.
George Worker's all-round efforts - a knock of 123 and a four-for - supported by centuries from Dane Cleaver and Greg Hay set up Central Districts' 87-run win over Wellington, their first of this season's Plunket Shield.
Put in to bat, Central Districts amassed 424 for 6 declared, riding on a 230-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Cleaver and Worker that steadied them after they were 148 for 5. Cleaver hit 20 fours and five sixes in his 208-ball 151 not out, while Worker stroked 15 fours and two sixes.
In response, Stephen Murdoch (89) and Tom Blundell (92) powered Wellington to 370 for 7 dec. Kurt Richards was the pick of Central Districts' bowlers, picking up 3 for 77.
Hay then built on Central Districts' 54-run lead with a patient 127 not out to steer them to 314 for 6 declared, setting Wellington a target of 369. Top-order fifties from Luke Woodcock and Stephen Murdoch (82) gave Wellington a good start but their chase fell away after a batting slide that saw them lose five wickets for 26 runs. Luke Ronchi waged a lone battle scoring 88 as Wellington lost eight wickets to left-arm spinners, Ajaz Patel and Worker, with Worker taking 4 for 58.
Auckland managed to post a 444-run target thanks Jeet Raval's unbeaten 202 in the second innings that included 28 fours. Rob Nicol and Colin de Grandhomme also contributed with fifties, the latter striking 52 off 43 balls with six fours and two sixes.
After being inserted, Auckland were bundled out for 277 on the first day, riding on fifties from Nicol (60) and de Grandhomme (59). Tarun Nethula then led their response with the ball, taking 3 for 64 to help dismiss Otago for 265.
With the draw, Auckland picked up six points to maintain their position at the top of the points table.