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Northern Districts favourites for title

A wrap of the penultimate round of Plunket Shield games

ESPNcricinfo staff
Northern Districts and Auckland took three points each from their rain-affected draw at Colin Maiden Park. Northern Districts, who are top of the points table, need only six points from their final league match to win the Plunket Shield. Auckland are in second place, trailing by 15 points. Northern Districts were sent in to bat and reached 266 for 6 on the first day, before the second was entirely lost to rain. They resumed on the third and progressed to 351 for 8 declared, with Daniel Flynn making an unbeaten 123. Rain shortened the third day as well and Auckland ended it on 39 for 1. Auckland declared their first innings on 43 for 2 in 21.1 overs on another rain-hit, final day to prevent Northern Districts from earning a bowling point that would have taken them closer to the title. Having conceded a deficit of 308, Auckland were asked to follow on and reached 31 for 1 before the match ended in a draw.
Rain washed out the third and fourth days at Karori Park, forcing a draw between Wellington and Central Districts. Wellington earned four points from the game, while Central Districts got two, leaving them in third and fourth place respectively and out of the race for the title. Wellington chose to bat and amassed 501 for 6 before declaring on the second day. Grant Elliott made 188 not out, while Luke Ronchi scored 111 off 91 balls. After so much toil in the field, Central Districts batted only 1.3 overs before rain ensured there was no more play in the match.
The contest in Dunedin, between the two bottom teams Canterbury and Otago, also ended in a draw but it was a more exciting one than the other two. Otago, chasing 268, were 259 for 5 and had 17 overs in which to score the required runs when bad light brought an end to the match. Canterbury had been dismissed for 199 in the first innings and Otago could make only 197 in theirs, reducing the match to a second-innings shoot-out. Canterbury fared better in their second innings, declaring on 265 for 6 on the final day, but so did Otago. Riding on half-centuries from their top three, Otago scored at more than five runs an over, motoring steadily towards the target before bad light halted them nine runs short.
Edited by George Binoy