Cricket: Auckland into one day final

Auckland have romped to the final of the Ford Trophy after a sparkling century from Colin Munro proved far too much for Canterbury to overcome in today's preliminary final.

Playing at Hamilton's Seddon Park due to Eden Park's unavailability, Munro transformed what could have been an average Auckland score by smacking 118 from 81 balls in a decisive innings.

He helped the Aces compile 314-9 from their 50 overs before Chris Martin's five-wicket bag restricted Canterbury to 186 all out.

The 128-run victory will see Auckland host the competition final next Sunday, with the identity of their opponent in the showpiece to be determined on Wednesday. Having finished second in the competition, Canterbury earned another life and will host Wellington after the Firebirds crushed Northern Districts at the Basin Reserve today.

Whoever wins the right to face Auckland will face a fierce test against the team that finished the round robin top of the table. Auckland were relatively well-placed on 101-3 when Munro came to the crease in the 21st over before the Black Caps batsman seized control of proceedings.

He enjoyed one significant partnership - a 116-run stand for the sixth wicket with Donovan Grobbelaar (44) - and hit nine fours and six sixes in his two hours in the middle.

In reply, Canterbury got off to a bad start when Martin removed Brad Cachopa in the third over, before Kyle Mills picked up two wickets to reduce the Wizards to 13-3. Canterbury's run chase never looked likely from that point and, despite a fighting 71 from Shanan Stewart, they crumbled to be dismissed in the 44th over.

Canterbury will have to quickly recover before their showdown against Wellington, who were in rampant form against the Knights. ND were in a promising position in the 20th over, sitting on 97-0, before Harry Boam's removal of Anton Devcich sparked a collapse of epic proportions.

The Knights lost all 10 wickets for just 43 runs, falling to 140 all out in the space of just 16 overs. No batsman outside of the top three reached double figures, while Jono Hickey's 17-ball, 20-minute stay was the longest managed during the carnage.

Jeetan Patel was the chief destroyer, taking 4-21 from his 10 overs, while Boam and Tipene Friday chipped in with braces.

Wellington had little trouble overhauling the meagre total, cruising home in 22 overs with the loss of two wickets. Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi opened and top-scored with 76 before being bowled by the returning Dan Vettori.

- APNZ

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