Auckland go into their final-round Plunket Shield match today needing much to go their way if they are to pull off the first-class title.

They will start their game against Canterbury at Colin Maiden Park lying second, 15 points behind leaders Northern Districts, who play Central Districts in Napier. The points system has 12 for the outright win, with four batting and four bowling bonus points on offer, at certain points in each of the first two innings.

Auckland need the lot, in the unlikely event of rain chopping ND off at the knees at a point where they have one hand on the trophy.

Auckland have recalled former test opener Tim McIntosh for Brad Cachopa in their only change from the team which had their ninth-round match against ND ruined by rain last week.


That was immensely frustrating, captain Gareth Hopkins said, recognising it was the opportunity to close the points gap on the one team ahead of them. The temptation may be to charge out of the blocks today to try to make things happen quickly.

However, Hopkins cautioned against any sort of bull-at-a-gate approach.

"Four days is a long time to get a result and it's about believing and trusting ourselves," he said.

Opener Jeet Raval will have a check on a twisted knee this morning.

Canterbury have Rob Nicol back in place of test batsman Dean Brownlie while Ryan McCone takes Matt McEwan's place.

ND's first objective against CD will be six bonus points, with which they cannot overtaken.

They have lost axed test seamer Tim Southee, through injury, test batsman Daniel Flynn, and Hamish Marshall, who has returned to his English county side, Gloucestershire.

CD will bid farewell to their Zimbabwe seamer Kyle Jarvis, who stayed on after his country's tour of NZ.

Jarvis has been top value for CD, taking 28 wickets at just 19 runs apiece in his five appearances so far. In the other game, bottom side Otago host Wellington, who are mathematically still a title longshot, in Dunedin.

* Points with one round remaining: ND 92, Auckland 77, Wellington 75, CD 71, Canterbury 54, Otago 41.


Canterbury v Auckland

Colin Maiden Park, 10.30am

Canterbury: Peter Fulton (c), George Worker, Rob Nicol, Shanan Stewart, Tom Latham, Reece Young, Todd Astle, Andrew Ellis, Ryan McCone, Ed Nuttall, Willie Lonsdale, Tim Johnston.

Auckland: Gareth Hopkins (c), Tim McIntosh, Jeet Raval, Neal Parlane, Anaru Kitchen, Colin de Grandhomme, Colin Munro, Mitchell McClenaghan, Dean Bartlett, Bruce Martin, Michael Bates, Bhupinder Singh.