Cricket: Win pushes Aces into No2 spot

By Kris Shannon

Auckland have jumped to second in the Plunket Shield standings after a comfortable seven-wicket win over Canterbury at Eden Park's Outer Oval yesterday.

The Aces made light work of their fourth-innings chase, cruising to 219 for the loss of three and with more than two sessions remaining.

The win was built largely on just the second 10-wicket haul of Kyle Mills' 15-year first class career, with the New Zealand seamer combining with Bruce Martin (5-45) to skittle Canterbury for 120 yesterday. That saw the Wizards cede any advantage they had and, after Auckland raced to 153-2 at stumps, the hosts began well in control.

Half-centuries from Tim McIntosh (77no) and Craig Cachopa (57) ensured there was no fourth-day magic from the Wizards, with Auckland requiring only 12.4 overs to bring up the 66 runs needed.

Auckland's second victory moves them into second in the standings, trailing only Central Districts, though two other matches were still in progress.

Heading into today's final day, third-placed Otago have a 15-run lead over CD with nine wickets in hand.

After Otago piled on 427 in their first innings, the Stags resumed yesterday on 115-1 before yet another century from Mathew Sinclair saw his side take a slim lead.

Sinclair's 36th first class ton pushed him past Stephen Fleming and Ken Rutherford to sixth on New Zealand's all-time list and capitalised on a good foundation laid by Jamie How (64) and Carl Cachopa (55).

Sinclair remained unmoved until Neil Wagner sneaked one through to dismiss him for 142.

CD were soon back in the pavilion with a lead of 22 and, despite Otago opener Hamish Rutherford falling late, a draw seemed likely.

Elsewhere, Northern Districts will fancy their chances of securing maximum points against Wellington after forcing the hosts to follow on at Karori Park.

The Knights' bowlers made up for lost time yesterday and left Wellington holding a slim seven-run lead with four wickets in hand.

A five-wicket bag from Tim Southee saw the Firebirds dismissed for 206, with wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi's (113) second century of the season the highlight.

Wellington were sent back into bat still 197 runs in arrears. Once Southee dismissed Jesse Ryder (9) for the second time in the match, Wellington were reduced to 32-3.

- The Aucklander

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