Munro, Phillips help Auckland gun down 314 target

Colin Munro plays a reverse sweep AFP

Centuries by Colin Munro (110) and Glenn Phillips (101) set up Auckland's two-wicket win over Otago in a thrilling inaugural match at the Molyneux Park in Alexandra.

Chasing 314, Auckland lost two wickets in the 12th over to Mark Craig after a solid start. Phillips, who is a member of New Zealand's U-19 World Cup squad, and Munro then kickstarted Auckland's chase with a 121-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Phillips and Munro both smashed ten fours in their centuries while Phillips managed to clear the boundary four times and Munro, five. After Phillips was dismissed in the 29th over, Munro took Auckland's score to 258 in the 40th over before he was dismissed by Michael Bracewell. Auckland then huffed and puffed their way to the target with three balls to spare, thanks to valuable contributions from Robert O'Donnell (27) and Tarun Nethula (16).

Choosing to bat, Otago were driven to 313 by Neil Broom's 99-ball 101 and Bracewell's 63 at the top of the order. Broom laid down anchor for Otago and was part of three half-century partnerships that took the total close to 300 before he fell in 47th over. Lachie Ferguson was the pick of Auckland's bowlers with returns of 4 for 68.

Central Districts began their Ford Trophy title defense in disastrous fashion after Canterbury completed an easy six-wicket win in Napier on the back of fine all-round displays from Todd Astle and Ronnie Hira. Chasing 168, Canterbury were in trouble at 59 for 4 before Astle (41 off 75) and Hira (70 off 92) got together to put on an unbeaten 109-run stand to help Canterbury romp to the target with 50 balls to spare. Seth Rance had done most of the damage to Canterbury's top order with figures of 2 for 29 from 10 overs.

Earlier, Central Districts opted to bat and Jesse Ryder (28) provided a brisk start but lost wickets regularly. Josh Clarkson and Will Young formed a 49-run fourth-wicket stand, and Dane Cleaver and Marty Kain combined for 57 for the seventh wicket but a clump of wickets on either side meant Central Districts could only post 167 after they were bowled out with 45 balls unconsumed. Ed Nuttall and Astle picked up three wickets each while Hira and Andrew Ellis claimed two apiece.

Craig Cachopa and Stephen Murdoch produced contrasting fifties to ace Wellington's chase of 268 by five wickets against Northern Districts at Basin Reserve in Wellington. Northern Districts lost Dean Brownlie and Daryl Mitchell early after being inserted in to bat, before Daniel Flynn (69) and Corey Anderson (25) steadied the ship with a 63-run partnership.

However, ND lost wickets in regular intervals thereafter, temporarily stalling the momentum. Anton Devcich provided the required impetus with a run-a-ball 64 before Brent Arnel, who was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4 for 45, had him caught by Anurag Verma. The lower order strung together 59 off the last 45 balls to take the total to 267.

Wellington lost their openers within the first 10 overs of the chase, before Cachopa and Murdoch came together for a 160-run third-wicket stand. Murdoch played the role of anchor, with a patient 83 whereas Cachopa struck 10 fours and four sixes in his 84-ball 95. Luke Woodcock, playing his 100th Ford Trophy game for Wellington, smashed a quick 31 to take Wellington past the target with 26 balls to spare. Devich and James Baker took two wickets each.