Northern Districts pulled off an improbable win, chasing down 385 in little over three sessions with 9 wickets to spare against Wellington at the new Cobham Oval in Whangarei.
Wellington took advantage of being given first use of the pitch and piled up an impressive 406. While there were no centuries in the innings, offspinner Jeetan Patel came painfully close, being dismissed Trent Boult on 99. The Boult brothers, Trent and Jonothon, were the pick of the bowlers, picking up three wickets apiece.
Northern Districts disappointed in their first innings, with just five batsmen - two of which were Nos. 9 and 11 - reaching double-figures. Mark Gillespie, Andy McKay and Patel snagged three wickets each, restricting Northern Districts to 235. Powered by an unbeaten 104 by opener Stephen Murdoch, Wellington then got quickly to 212 for 4 and declared, setting Northern Districts 385 for victory.
Northern Districts began day four on 11 for no loss, with Brad Wilson and Bradley-John Watling at the crease. The pair did not depart till the 70th over of the innings, by which time they had put on a 274-run stand. Hamish Marshall (58*) came in when Wilson departed for a career-best 151, and finished the job with Watling who finished on 164 not out - also his best first-class effort.
Wellington took two points from the game for gaining the first-innings lead, while Northern Districts took six for the win.
Canterbury managed to hold current table-toppers Central Districts to a draw and secure two points for gaining the first innings lead at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora.
Asked to bat, Central Districts lost wickets in a hurry to be reduced to 176 for 7, before a 73-run partnership between captain Kruger van Wyk and Ben Wheeler steered them to 284. Most of the damage was done by fast bowler Andrew Ellis, who produced career-best figures of 6 for 54.
Canterbury's response was built around a patient 97 from Dean Brownlie. Captain Peter Fulton, the only other batsman to make a half-century in the innings, made a bold decision to declare once the first innings lead had been secured. Opening bowler Wheeler (3 for 62) and legspinner Tarun Nethula (4 for 88) picked up seven of the eight wickets to fall in the innings.
Central Districts were solid in their second innings, piling up 393 in quick time on the back of an unbeaten 151 from Mathew Sinclair. They declared early on the final day with four wickets in hand, setting Canterbury a target of 382. Canterbury batted out the rest of the day without much drama, as Fulton produced his second fifty of the match and Shanan Stewart made an unbeaten 79.
Otago completed an easy 10-wicket win over Auckland within three days at the University Oval in Dunedin, after demolishing Auckland for just 46 in their first innings.
Asked to bat by Gareth Hopkins, Otago lost a couple of early wickets, but were steadied by a solid 97 from opener Michael Bracewell. Once he was dismissed, fifties from Darren Broom (Neil Broom's brother) and Neil Wagner took their first innings total to 327. Chris Martin picked up a five-for for Auckland, knocking over most of the Otago top order.
One of the most dramatic collapses in Plunket Shield cricket followed, as Auckland imploded for 46 without any of their batsmen getting to double-figures. In an innings that lasted 18 overs, and included three ducks and a top score of 9 courtesy the extras column, medium pacer Warren McSkimming was the wrecker-in-chief. While picking up the tenth five-wicket haul of his career, he was supported by Ian Butler who took 3 for 7.
Following on, Auckland needed to score 281 to draw level with Otago. They just managed to do so, steered away from an innings defeat by an unbeaten 89 from Anaru Kitchen. McSkimming took his match total to ten wickets with another five-for, as Auckland folded on exactly 281. The Otago openers knocked off the single needed for victory, securing eight points (win, plus first innings lead) from the match.
New Zealand Domestic Season