Jesse Ryder lit up the opening day of the Ford Trophy with a power-packed unbeaten century that helped Otago cruise to a five-wicket win against Canterbury in Timaru. It was Ryder's sixth century of the season - and second in four matches after being left out of the Auckland Test against India.
Chasing 304, Otago lost Neil Broom in the first over before a 111-run stand between Hamish Rutherford (67 off 58) and Michael Bracewell (43 off 46) revived the team. However, both batsmen were dismissed within the space of three deliveries. Ryan ten Doeschate and James Neesham added vital runs with Ryder to lift the team, but when Rob Nicol dismissed Neesham - the fifth wicket - Otago needed a further 113 runs in 17.5 overs. Ryder completed his half-century soon after, taking 42 balls to reach the landmark but it was his partnership with Nathan McCullum that put the chase back on track.
The two batsmen brought up the fifty of the partnership in 52 balls before Ryder increased the pace in the 43rd over, taking 15 runs and brining the equation down to 43 from 42. They needed only 25 of those deliveries as Ryder finished the match with a six. McCullum was unbeaten on 50.
Canterbury's maintained a brisk rate throughout their innings with the half-centuries from Dean Brownlie and Peter Fulton being the major contributions. The 70-run partnership between the two was one of the three half-century stands, but the quick fall of wickets towards the end of the innings slowed the innings down a bit. Neesham was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets.
In Palmeston North, Central Districts' bowlers ran through the Wellington batting line-up before Jamie How smashed a 64-ball 84 to set up a crushing eight-wicket win.
Put in to bat, Wellington progressed to 81 for 2 in the 16th over with Grant Elliot leading the effort with a half-century. But Elliot's dismissal on 51 - he was trapped lbw by Tarun Nethula - sparked a collapse that saw Wellington lose their last eight wickets for 76 runs to be bowled out in the 35th over. Nethula led the bowling with 3 for 35, while Seth Rance and Marty Kain shared two wickets each.
In response, Central Districts charged their way towards the target, reaching 50 in the eighth over and then 100 in the 15th. How hit seven boundaries and five sixes, and added 121 runs for the opening wicket to close the doors on Wellington. He missed out on a century, but his opening partner, Ben Smith, was unbeaten on 47 when Central Districts overhauled the target in the 24th over.
Opting to bat, Norther Districts' top order, led by BJ Watling's 72, made useful contributions to lift the team to 167 for 4 and would have aimed for a surge in the last 14 overs. McClenaghan though had Watling caught behind at the crucial juncture, derailing the Northern Districts innings in the process. The lower order capitulated quickly as Northern Districts lost their last six wickets for 28 runs.
Auckland's chase suffered early blows as Trent Boult nipped out Martin Guptill on the first ball, and Craig Cachopa was retired hurt in the second over. Kitchen, however, led the team's recovery with a 40-run stand with Colin Munro followed by a 68-run stand with Gareth Hopkins. But it was his unbeaten stand of 87 with Colin de Grandhomme that sealed the win in the 39th over.