They may have tumbled to 99 all out. And they may be facing an improbable target of 519. But regardless of how their final game of the season goes, Central Districts will lift the Plunket Shield trophy. Their status as champions - for the first time since 2013 - was confirmed as soon as their closest rivals for the season - Wellington - slipped to a 120-run defeat to Auckland at the Outer Oval in Eden Park.

Central Districts have had a fantastic time in 2017-18, making the finals of both limited-overs tournaments, the Ford Trophy and the Super Smash, although poor batting in both title clashes left them with little to show for their efforts. That has not been a problem in first-class cricket, though. Three of their batsmen - Greg Hay, Jesse Ryder and Will Young - are among the top-10 run-getters in the tournament. And on the bowling front, left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel finished as the leading wicket-taker.

Wellington had been leading points table as recently as the previous round of the Plunket Shield, but their defeat to Northern Districts coupled with Central Districts' thrashing of Canterbury by an innings and 58 runs led to a most decisive shake-up.