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A Covid-19 outbreak within the Northern Districts squad forced their Plunket Shield game against Central Districts to be called off. The knock-on effect of that is Auckland are now the champions of first-class cricket in New Zealand. They last won the title in 2015-16.
Northern Districts had just begun their second innings, having put up 496 for 6 declared in the first. Central Districts had responded with 408 for 7 declared and their bowlers had picked up an early wicket as well. But then, just before the final day's play on April 1, some ND players began to show symptoms of the virus. Subsequent testing revealed that they had been infected, which led to the game being shut down.
To keep up with the disruption caused by the pandemic, the rankings in all of New Zealand's domestic competitions are based on points per game.
"In a circumstance where a match is called off due to Covid-19, neither team receives points, and the fixture is not included when calculating the points per match ratio," an NZC press release on Saturday said.
"Together with runaway leaders the Auckland Aces (who can be equalled, but can not be overtaken, on average points per game) Northern Districts is now the only other team alive in the Plunket Shield.
"However, the Aces, [who beat Wellington on Wednesday], have a game in hand and require just one further point from their last two fixtures (with a maximum of 20 points available per round) to secure the title outright."
The ICC had to deal with something similar during the inaugural World Test championship in 2020-21. With several matches being affected by Covid-19, they changed the rules midway through the tournament, saying a team's points will be calculated as a percentage of the total points they had up for grabs.
"The cancellation of the match has therefore seen Northern Districts return to second spot on the table, overtaking Canterbury on average points per game," the NZC added, "Despite Canterbury meanwhile having picked up eight first-innings bonus points from their drawn match with the Otago Volts, after a weather-hit final day in Rangiora."