The Plunket Shield race is wide open with three rounds to play after Northern Districts stunned top-of-the-table Canterbury in Gisborne yesterday.
Given almost the entire day to attempt a chase of 384, it seemed as though the leaders would shut up shop at Harry Barker Reserve. But they crumbled to 73 all out inside 37 overs, as Ish Sodhi warmed up for the Indian test series with career-best figures of 5-29.
Northern Districts came into the match in last place but controlled proceedings after compiling 482 in the first innings. With days two and three interrupted by rain, a pair of declarations gave both sides something to play for on the final day.
But after Graeme Aldridge removed both openers - including Peter Fulton for nine - there was only one side with a chance of claiming victory. The wickets continued to tumble and, once Sodhi ran out Shanan Stewart with a direct hit, Canterbury were soon reeling at 43-5.
There was no lower order resistance and the leg spinner claimed the final five wickets, consigning Canterbury to their lowest score against ND in provincial history.
Only Henry Nicholls managed more than 10 for the visitors.
That news would have been welcomed at Eden Park's outer oval. Resuming on 175-5 and leading Otago by 206, Auckland showed little interest in chasing a result and owe a debt of gratitude to ND, considering a Canterbury victory would have put them out of sight.
Instead, Auckland sit fifth, 19 points off the pace, after Gareth Hopkins' 17th first class century saw his side through to 310-8.
There was more excitement but the same result in Central Districts' match with Wellington at McLean Park in Napier, where all three results were in play with 10 overs left. The hosts needed 87 but, with only three in hand, opted to take a defensive approach and fell 63 runs short.