A solid second-innings batting performance helped Central Districts win their Plunket Shield match against Wellington by seven wickets in Napier, despite conceding a slender first-innings lead.

Central asked Wellington to bat in what turned out to be a match with middling scores. Cameron Merchant and Luke Woodcock scored half-centuries in Wellington's first innings but the lack of substantial scores from anyone else resulted in them being dismissed for 250. Doug Bracewell caused most of the damage, taking 5 for 47, and he was well supported by Adam Milne, who picked up 4 for 49. Central's reply was weak: seven batsmen got past 20 but Brendon Diamanti's 40 was the top score. Fast bowler Ili Tugaga took career-best figures of 5 for 77 to dismiss them for 232.

Bracewell and Milne once again cut through the Wellington top order in the second innings and soon had in trouble at 26 for 3. Neal Parlene resisted with 90 but Wellington slipped to 207 all out. Bracewell, who finished the match with 9 for 109, and Milne, with seven wickets, had ensured their team had only 226 to chase for victory.

Faced with a gettable target, Central's top order delivered. The top three batsmen - Peter Ingram, Jamie How and Brad Patton - scored half-centuries and No. 4 Timothy Weston scored an unbeaten 41 to lead Central to 228 for 3 in only the 49th over. The victory kept Central Districts in second place in the league, behind Northern Districts.

Canterbury edged ahead of Otago in the points table and took third place with a 158-run win in Queenstown. Their top order delivered a solid performance in the first innings - Michael Papps' 83 and Dean Brownlie's 63 were the highlights - and they were comfortably placed at 248 for 4 when the middle and lower order folded cheaply. They were dismissed for only 315 as a result.

Canterbury's bowlers rose to the challenge. Their new-ball operators, Hamish Bennett and Chris Martin, took three wickets each and Otago lost wickets steadily to be dismissed for 221. Derek de Boorder top scored 55 as they gave up a first-innings lead of 94. Canterbury's batsmen performed once again in the second innings, with Papps leading the way with a century. He scored 122 and Johann Myburgh made 90, which allowed Canterbury to declare on 340 for 5, setting Otago a target of 435.

Otago's batsmen fared better in the chase. Opener Craig Cumming made 82 but a top-order hiccup resulted in a slide from 85 for 1 to 132 for 5. Sam Wells made a half-century in the middle order but became one of legspinner Todd Astle's five wickets. Otago were eventually bowled out for 272 in the 93rd over of their innings.

Teams Mat Won LostTied Draw Aban Pts Quotient ForAgainst
Northern Districts 85 2 0 1 0 441.346 3555/95 3447/124
Central Districts 84 1 0 3 0 320.996 4217/117 4269/118
Canterbury 83 2 0 3 0 281.298 4534/106 4285/130
Otago 83 3 0 2 0 260.943 4282/124 4688/128
Wellington 82 5 0 1 0 180.747 4417/144 4229/103
Auckland 81 5 0 2 0 80.832 4129/113 4216/96