Ball triumphed over bat in a day bowlers could only dream of as 36 wickets fell across two games at an average of 18 in the Plunket Shield today.

Hamilton was a graveyard for both teams as 21 batsmen were sent packing for 377 runs to leave the match in the balance, while the carnage continued in Auckland where the hosts claimed 10 Otago scalps only to lose five themselves before stumps.

The eventful day at Eden Park left Auckland on the ropes and set to fall further behind Otago in third spot on the standings. Once the dust settled from batsmen trudging to and from the middle, the Aces held a 61-run lead at the halfway mark with five wickets in hand.

Otago began the day on 86-0 with designs on a big lead after bundling out Auckland for 196 yesterday but, aside from Aaron Redmond and Hamish Rutherford's century opening partnership, they failed to put together another stand of any real substance.


Wickets tumbled while Redmond tied up an end, but the veteran opener's resistance eventually came to an end two runs short of his 13th first class century. Redmond was Dean Bartlett's third victim and the 25-year-old tied up the tail to tally his first five-wicket bag for his province.

Bartlett and his fellow bowlers ensured Auckland claimed four bonus points, but they may be only consolation after the batsmen continued to struggle.

Fresh off five wickets in the first innings, Ian Butler grabbed another two this afternoon and Neil Wagner also chimed in with a brace to leave the Aces in real trouble.

Meanwhile, rain may have washed out most of the first day of Northern Districts' match against Canterbury, but a result is very much in play after the two sides' bowlers made up for lost time.

The defending champion Knights would have been surprised to take a first-innings lead after slumping from 125-2 to 200 all out - with wicketkeeper BJ Watling falling for eight in his bid to put pressure on test incumbent Kruger van Wyk - but they will resume tomorrow 130 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand.

That's because Canterbury's batsmen found life even more difficult on a decent track at Seddon Park. The Wizards were in need of some magic after being reduced to 35-6, before Todd Astle (53 from 45 balls) and Gareth Andrew (89 from 69 balls) set about rebuilding the innings.

With Canterbury dismissed 14 runs short of the hosts' total, Joseph Yovich and James Marshall began to build a significant lead with a second-wicket partnership of 109. But Marshall was stumped late on for 61 and nightwatchman Brent Arnel fell cheaply to leave ND on 116-3 at stumps.