Northern Districts 273 (Orchard 48, Hart 48) and 58 for 3 (Hamilton 2-22) need 342 more runs to beat Central Districts 479 and 193 (How 72, Englefield 52, Tuffey 4-38, Aldridge 3-22)
Scott Styris, who has been struggling for runs lately, has the perfect opportunity for a last big innings before the forthcoming one-day series against Sri Lanka. He was unbeaten on 16 with his state side, Northern Districts, need another 342 runs to beat Central Districts at Napier's McLean Park.
The odds are not great for ND to win. If they make the runs, it would be only the second time that they would have scored 400 for a win. But they had already lost three wickets on the third evening, with nightwatchman Graeme Aldridge giving Styris company at close of play.
The ND bowling attack, and Daryl Tuffey in particular, did well to peg back Central Districts during their second innings and dismiss them for 193. Jamie How hit 72, falling short of the chance to be the first New Zealander to score four successive first-class centuries, while Jarrod Englefield scored 52 to make the only other sizeable contribution. Mathew Sinclair, the New Zealand opener, was dismissed off the first ball of the innings by Tuffey.
New Zealand's side for the one-day series is to be announced tomorrow and Tuffey, who took a mauling in the first innings, bowled much better the second time around and returned figures of 4 for 38, thus improving his chances of making it to the one-day squad. Aldridge also did well to take 3 for 23.
In ND's response, Llorne Howell and Mark Orchard were both back in the pavilion with only 11 runs on the board. James Marshall, the captain, scored 28 before he was out lbw to Ewen Thompson.
Wellington 291 and 85 for 2 need 166 more runs to beat Otago 327 and 214 (Cumming 57, J Ryder 3-31, Gillespie 3-58)
Should Otago lose this match on the final day - and only a disturbing weather forecast looks like preventing this - they will have cause to reflect on their disappointing second-innings effort at the Basin Reserve.
This tendency to falter in the third innings of the match is a frailty which is endemic in New Zealand teams of late, and Otago suffered from it as well. Only Craig Cumming, their captain, Aaron Redmond and Jeff Wilson made reasonable contributions. Cummings made 57 in 171 minutes, Redmond batted even longer for his 44, while Wilson made 38. The fact that Jesse Ryder, a part-time bowler, took career-best figures of 3 for 31 was indicative of how poorly Otago batted.
Wellington made a rollicking response in their bid to score 251 for victory, possibly keeping in mind the poor weather forecast for the final day. Michael Parlane, opening the batting in the absence of the injured Matthew Bell, scored 42 in the opening stand of 77. However, the good work was partially undone when both openers were dismissed in quick succession, as Wellington ended the day on 85 for 2.