Cricket: Northern Districts go top in Plunket Shield

By David Leggat

Jimmy Baker bowled the match-sealing delivery for Northern Districts. Photo / Photosport
Jimmy Baker bowled the match-sealing delivery for Northern Districts. Photo / Photosport

Northern Districts gained the only outright win when the third round of Plunket Shield matches ended today, and have earned a six-point lead at the top of the ladder.

ND's 21-run win over Canterbury in Hamilton produced a thrilling finish, and a spectacular conclusion.

Test spinner Ish Sodhi leapt high and grabbed a one-handed catch on the square leg boundary to dismiss Henry Shipley to end the Canterbury chase for 208 at 186.

Shipley and fellow seamer Ed Nuttall had added 33 for the last wicket to pull Canterbury within sniffing distance before Sodhi's memorable catch.

That went with a haul of three for 66 in the innings, while there were two wickets each for Tim Southee, Scott Kuggeleijn and James Baker.

Wellington are second, after their draw with Auckland at Eden Park.

Wellington set Auckland a target of 342 and the hosts finished at 276 for six, with test opener Martin Guptill unbeaten on 128, his 12th first-class hundred.

He hit 16 fours and four sixes in his 191-ball innings.

Guptill and captain Rob Nicol (62) put on 111 for the third wicket, before Nicol edged an attempted hook to the wicketkeeper, but the target was always challenging.

Otago and Central Districts remain lodged at the bottom of the table after drawing in Dunedin.

CD were left a target of 400 and began the day at seven for one.

Tom Bruce made a brisk 55 but Otago had 19 overs left to get the last four wickets. However an unbroken stand of 44th for the eighth wicket by Doug Bracewell and Christian Leopard was enough to see off the threat.

There were three cheap wickets apiece for test pair Neil Wagner and Jimmy Neesham.

The fourth round starting next Monday has ND playing Auckland at Mt Maunganui; Wellington hosting CD in the capital and Otago playing Canterbury in Invercargill.

Points after three rounds: ND 40, Wellington 34, Auckland 29, Canterbury 28, CD 18, Otago 17.

- NZ Herald

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