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Auckland crush Northern Districts in three-day finish

Mitchell Santner taps the ball down the ground Getty Images

Auckland narrowed down the difference between them and second-placed Central Districts to two points following a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Northern Districts in Hamilton. A first-innings lead of 167 proved crucial for Auckland, who chased down their 72-run target quite comfortably on the third day, courtesy an unbeaten 49-ball 52 from Martin Guptill.

Auckland justified their decision to bowl first by skittling Northern Districts for 148 in 55.5 overs. Benjamin Lister, the 21-year old left-arm seamer playing his second first-class game, inflicted maximum damage, nipping out four of the top five, and eventually ended with a maiden five-for. Only Kane Williamson (45) and Mitchell Santner (55) dug in to defy the bowlers, during the course of a 65-run third-wicket stand.

Auckland wiped out 80 runs of their deficit through their openers, Jeet Raval (37) and Michael Guptill-Bunce (62), but came under Scott Kuggeleijn's wheel to be reduced to 151 for 5. Limited-overs regulars Guptill and Colin Munro, who were part of India tour recently, were out for single digits, while Glenn Phillips, the wicketkeeper, trying to nail down a berth in the national team, wasted a strong start to fall for 30.

Colin de Grandhomme buckled down to make a 102-ball 50, and found able support from Mark Chapman (39), a Hong Kong international, after which Matt McEwan's 55 at No, 9 shored up the total to 315. Tim Southee returned 3 for 97, but Kuggeleijn was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 5 for 36.

Northern Districts needed a huge second-innings effort from their Test specialists to move ahead, but only Santner stood up, making a second half-century in the game. Williamson contributed 38 in the team's second innings total of 238, and was one of the six batsmen to be dismissed by McEwan in the innings, the seamer ending with returns of 6 for 48 in 20.1 overs.