Cricket: Auckland cruise against Canterbury

By Kris Shannon

The Aces began the final day needing only 66 runs with eight wickets in hand after Kyle Mills' 10-wicket haul put his side in prime position. Photo / Getty Images.
The Aces began the final day needing only 66 runs with eight wickets in hand after Kyle Mills' 10-wicket haul put his side in prime position. Photo / Getty Images.

Auckland have jumped to second on the Plunket Shield standings after completing a comfortable seven-wicket win over Canterbury at Eden Park's outer oval today.

The Aces made light work of their fourth innings chase, cruising to the target of 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 accrued earlier in the match and, after Auckland had raced to 153-2 at stumps, the hosts began today 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 of this year's competition moves them into second in the standings, trailing only Central Districts at the halfway mark, though two other matches are still in progress.

The most pertinent of those matches is at University Oval in Dunedin, where a draw is both the likely result and the preferred outcome for Auckland.

Heading into tomorrow's final day third-placed Otago have a 15-run lead over CD with nine wickets in hand, meaning only a sporting declaration or something special with the ball will force a result.

After Otago had piled on 427 in their first innings, the Stags resumed this morning 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).

Otago's bowlers were taking regular wickets at the other end, but Sinclair remained unmoved until Neil Wagner snuck one through the 37-year-old's defences to dismiss him for 142.

CD was soon back in the pavilion with a lead of 22 and, despite Otago opener Hamish Rutherford falling late in the day, a victory appears out of reach for either side.

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

With all of day two being washed out, the Knights' bowlers made up for lost time today 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 and two early wickets from Brent Arnel had the hosts in early trouble. Once Southee dismissed Jesse Ryder (9) for the second time in the match, Wellington were reduced to 32-3.

Spinner Ish Sodhi grabbed three late scalps to leave Ronchi (62no) and Scott Kuggeleijn (6no) with a battle on their hands to save the match.

- APNZ

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