Central Districts 108 for 7 (Taylor 56) beat Auckland 107 by 3 wickets with 19.5 overs to spare

Central Districts qualified for the final of the State Shield championship, New Zealand's domestic one-day tournament, when they beat Auckland by three wickets in the rescheduled semi-final at New Plymouth's Pukekura Park.

The match was postponed from yesterday after rain had made play impossible. It seemed the weather was going to thwart play again but the skies cleared, and a helicopter was brought in to help dry the ground, allowing a 40-over match to be played.

However, the amount of time that the pitch had been under covers had its effect. Auckland were asked to bat first, and they struggled to 107 all out as the ball swung and seamed around a great deal. Central Districts had a tough time as well, but finally managed to get to their target despite losing a flurry of wickets towards the end.

Auckland got off to a miserable start, losing their first four wickets for 22. Their lower order fought spiritedly, but were done in by some outstanding fielding by Central Districts, as four of the last five wickets fell to run-outs. Michael Mason and Lance Hamilton were the pick of the Central Districts bowlers, each returning figures of 2 for 14.

When Central Districts batted, Ross Taylor, the 19-year-old batsman, made the difference with a wonderfully aggressive 56, scored off just 45 balls. His first scoring shot was a six, and then he struck two more, off successive deliveries, to post his half-century. He was out when five runs were needed for victory, but the steady hand of Glen Sulzberger was sufficient to ensure the win with 19.5 overs to spare.

The one encouraging sign for Auckland, and for New Zealand, was the sight of Andre Adams showing some of his familiar aggression. He dismissed Taylor and Jarrod Englefield off consecutive balls and ended with figures of 2 for 16 from 4.1 overs.

Central Districts will play Canterbury, who topped the points table in the league games, in Friday's final at Christchurch's Jade Stadium. Friday is New Zealand's national holiday, known as Waitangi Day, the day the country's founding document was signed in 1840.