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Northern Districts lifted the Plunket Shield in style, successfully chasing 407 to earn full points against Central Districts at McLean Park . Having secured first-innings honours, a draw would have sufficed to give ND the trophy, but Hamish Marshall and Brad Wilson had other plans, and brought up stroke-filled tons to take their side home on the last day. Daniel Flynn, Michael Parlane and James Marshall struck fifties to complement the centurions' efforts and bring up the six-wicket win. The victory rounded off a wonderful season for the side, which had also emerged victorious in the one-day competition.
ND's bowlers set up their side to dominate the game after winning the toss, bowling Central out for 217 on the first day. Peter Ingram started the innings in dazzling fashion with a 58-ball 85, that included 17 fours and two sixes, but things changed drastically once he fell in the 17th over. Graeme Aldridge and Jonothan Boult picked three wickets each as CD's middle order failed to capitalise on the start. ND's reply ran into trouble against the Central seamers - Michael Mason, Ben Wheeler and Doug Bracewell - who reduced them to 120 for 6. Peter McGlashan then spearheaded a revival with the lower order that ensured that Northern secured a significant lead.
Peter Ingram resumed service in the second innings, as CD hunted for an outright victory. His 246-ball 178 was supported well by the rest of the batting line-up, with Jamie How, Timothy Weston, James de Terte and Bevan Griggs making significant contributions. How declared late on the penultimate day, leaving ND the tough ask of 407, but in the end it proved to be insufficient.
ND's coach Grant Bradburn was pleased with his team's showing through the season. "I'm very proud of the boys and all our staff. It's been a hard slog but it's very satisfying. The Plunket Shield is a tough grind. I'm so very proud of the guys and the whole staff. It recognises the time and effort we have put into the guys and culture here at ND," Bradburn said.
James Marshall, the victorious captain, echoed his coach's feelings. "It's the second trophy he's been able to get his hands on this season. The boys worked hard for it and we had a couple of celebratory drinks," he said. "This is something special. Cricketers don't often get the opportunity to have two trophies in one season so this is something the guys will cherish for the rest of their career."
Otago's batsmen hung on for a draw on the last day against Wellington at the Basin Reserve . Right from the time Jesse Ryder went after their bowling on the first day, Otago' were playing catch-up cricket despite having won the toss. Ryder smashed three sixes and 12 fours in a 109-ball 103, and the rest of the batting chipped in to lift the hosts to 389. Otago's reply was meek, and Sam Wells' resolute unbeaten 102 contributed more than half of their score. The wickets were shared around, with James Franklin and Andrew lamb picking three each.
In the second innings, Wellington's top order sent Otago's bowlers on a leather-hunt, as they sought to set a monumental fourth-innings target. Stephen Murdoch set the tone with a quick 88, before his opening partner Neal Parlane stole the show, striking 193 in 195 balls. Cameron Merchant also brought up a century, before the declaration came, setting a target of 600. Craig Cumming put his head down to bring up a responsible century, while Greg Todd fell five short of his, as they batted out 110 overs to earn a hard-fought draw, despite a wobble towards the end where three wickets fell in the space of 13 runs.
Auckland made short work of a fourth-innings chase of 337 to put it past Canterbury by seven wickets at Colin Maiden Park. Michael Bates gave Auckland a running start on the first day, picking six wickets to dismiss Canterbury for 203, despite a quickfire century from Michael Papps. Richard Jones and Andrew de Boorder ensured that the hosts' innings did not flounder in similar fashion. Both of them narrowly missed out on tons, and Anaru Kitchen made 62 to give Auckland a 149-run lead, while Todd Astle finished with 6 for 103.
Papps brought up a contrasting hundred in the second innings, and received better support from his colleagues. Johann Myburgh made 86, while Peter Fulton contributed 95, and they helped Papps raise 161 for the second, and 168 for the third wickets respectively. Papps top-scored with 180, at at 403 for 3, Canterbury looked set to stretch to a mammoth total. Richard Sherlock then ran through the middle order and put paid to such plans, picking 7 for 133, as Auckland were left requiring 337 runs to win. Michael Vermuelen created a couple of early hiccups before Jones and Reece Young settled down to take their side home. Jones made 170, and Young 126 as Auckland reached the target in the 91st over.