Stewart, Astle fashion Canterbury win
Canterbury moved to the top spot on the points table from joint-third position after registering a 28-run win over hosts Auckland at Colin Maiden Park.
In a match that featured several cameo performances with bat and ball, Canterbury made 334 after being asked to bat. Shanan Stewart anchored the innings with patient 90 as most of his team-mates got starts before being dismissed. Seamer Colin de Grandhomme and left-arm spinner Bruce Martin caused most of the damage, picking up seven wickets between them. Auckland's reply followed a similar course, with several batsmen getting their eyes in but not making significant contributions - the top score was 71 by Tim McIntosh - as opening bowler Matthew Henry and legspinner Todd Astle picked up three wickets apiece. The innings folded on 277, allowing Canterbury a 57-run lead.
At 3 for 35, Canterbury were in trouble in their second innings, as the two Martins, Chris and Bruce produced incisive spells. But three solid half-centuries from the middle order, including Stewart's 65, steered them to 231 for 8. Set 289 for victory, Auckland's batsmen came a cropper for the second time, barring Bradley Cachopa who scored 71, as they fell short of the target. Astle carved up the middle order with four scalps, taking his match haul to seven.
The Northern Districts v Otago match at Seddon Park in Hamilton ended in a high-scoring draw. Asked to bat, Otago piled up 389 on the back of steady tons from Aaron Redmond and Derek de Boorder. Northern Districts were emphatic in their reply, making 559 for 9 declared at an impressive rate of 4.83 runs per over. Daniel Flynn powered the innings with a knock of 241 off 253 balls that included nine sixes. Otago then batted out the rest of the match, scoring 343 for 6, with Redmond producing another ton.
In another batsmen-dominated encounter, Central Districts played out a draw against Wellington at the Basin Reserve. Choosing to bat, Central Districts built their innings around opener Peter Ingram who scored a steady 135, and declared their innings at 337 for 9. Hundreds from Stephen Murdoch and Neal Parlane helped Wellington take the first innings lead by a sizable margin, despite legspinner Tarun Nethula picking up a six-for. The run-fest continued as Ingram powered to his second ton of the match, an explosive 143 off 136 balls laced with 26 boundaries, Central Districts ending day four on 368 for 6.