Cricket: Butler, McCullum star in Otago win

Two remarkable performances - an Ian Butler six-wicket haul and a Brendon McCullum century - helped Otago cement second spot on the domestic Twenty20 cricket ladder with a five-wicket win over Auckland in Dunedin yesterday.

Butler took New Zealand record figures of six for 28, beating Jacob Oram's five for 14 against Otago earlier this season, as Auckland posted 168 for eight.

Then McCullum lit up University Oval with his 108 not out off just 67 deliveries, including 10 fours and four sixes, as the hosts reached their target with three balls to spare.

The win enabled the defending champions to pinch a six-point break on Auckland in second spot on the HRV Cup ladder, behind leaders Central Districts, in the race to the final.

Butler terrorised the Auckland batsmen in his four-over spell, removing import Ravi Bopara as his first victim then sending back Wednesday's centurymaker Lou Vincent for 16.

Only Scott Styris provided any resistance, top-scoring with 54 off 44 balls before Butler ended his innings.

Butler also removed Gareth Hopkins and Anaru Kitchen before bowling Reece Young for two in the 18th over to claim the record off Oram.

McCullum took control from the start against an attack containing internationals Daryl Tuffey and Styris, reaching 50 off 32 balls and his century off 65 deliveries.

He barely needed any support, with Hamish Rutherford's 38 off 31 balls the next best effort for Otago as the opening pair put on 101 off 12.1 overs.

Styris was the only Auckland bowler to apply pressure, taking three for 23 off four overs as he removed Rutherford, Neil Broom and Craig Cumming cheaply to give Otago some late heart flutters.

* A memorable debut bowling spell by Seth Rance helped Central Districts maintain their lead in the competition with an eight-wicket win over Canterbury in Nelson.

Rance justified captain Jamie How's decision to bowl first, returning outstanding figures of four for 13 off four overs as Canterbury posted a sub-standard 135 for eight.

Opener Peter Ingram led home a comfortable run chase with 77 not out as Central won with five balls to spare, their fifth victory from six matches.

It was Wairarapa seamer Rance's first appearance in either the Twenty20 or one-day formats for Central, having played four first-class matches since his debut last March.

* A marathon week had little effect on Daniel Vettori as he starred with bat and ball to lead Northern Districts to a crucial six-wicket over Wellington in Mt Maunganui.

Fresh from jetting from Invercargill to Sydney to Auckland in little over 24 hours - and starring for Queensland in the Australian competition - Vettori was again the go-to man for the hosts at Blake Park.

The New Zealand captain took the key wickets of internationals Owais Shah and James Franklin in a spell of two for 19, then cracked 39 off 32 balls as Northern cruised to their target of 120 with 3.3 overs to spare.

The win was Northern's third from six matches.

- NZPA

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