Auckland are already facing an uphill battle in search of their first Plunket Shield win of the season after a luckless opening day with the ball.

After Gareth Hopkins won the toss at Eden Park Outer Oval and inserted Northern Districts yesterday morning, little else went right as the visitors cruised to 315-2 at stumps.

Opener Daniel Flynn did the majority of the damage, carrying his bat through the day to reach stumps unbeaten on 162, with Auckland's bowlers blunted by the ex-Black Cap.

Flynn, who played the last of his tests earlier this year, shared a 213-run partnership for the second wicket with Joe Carter, a 21-year-old playing his fourth first-class match.


Carter looked set to join his senior partner in three figures only to fall for 95 to the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme, with the allrounder taking both wickets to fall.

But the day belonged to Flynn, putting his side in charge with his 15th first-class ton and preventing Kyle Mills (0-57) from enjoying any success in preparation for the five-match ODI series against the West Indies.

Elsewhere, bat also trumped ball in the top-of-the-table clash at Karori Park in Wellington, although a couple of late wickets saw the hosts claw their way back against Canterbury.

Tom Latham enjoyed a day almost equal to Flynn's, seizing the initiative after being sent in and scoring 137 to see his side through to 292-5 at stumps.

Latham was overlooked for the Black Caps' one-day squad announ-ced earlier this week and he batted like he had a point to prove, sharing significant stands with Henry Nicholls (70) and Shanan Stewart (60).

Before the dismissal of Stewart, Canterbury progressed to 290-3 and looked in control, but two wickets from Andy McKay in the day's penultimate over gave the home side some hope heading into day two.

But Canterbury will still be confident of amassing an opposing first innings total and adding to their lead atop the Plunket Shield standings, with Latham set to resume eight runs shy of his career-best score.

The day's trend was bucked in Dunedin, where Jesse Ryder helped Otago's bowlers run through Central Districts for 255 to snatch control at University Oval.

Ryder, set to open the batting for New Zealand on Boxing Day, showed his all-round abilities when his two early wickets reduced CD to 67-3. Things soon got worse for the Stags as they saw three batsmen depart with the score locked on 76, eventually managing a respectable total courtesy of Kruger van Wyk's 91.

In reply, Otago couldn't survive a tricky nine overs before stumps, losing Aaron Redmond (5) and Michael Bracewell (4) to close on 30-2.