A dominant day with the ball left Auckland in a commanding position of their top-of-the-table Plunket Shield encounter with Wellington today.

With both sides coming into the clash boasting three wins from the opening four rounds, the victor will open up a handy lead at the halfway mark of the competition. And after the opening day at Colin Maiden Park, Auckland will have their eyes on doing just that.

Having won the toss and opted to bat, Nathan McAndrew and Michael Bates set about justifying that decision, removing both openers inside the first 10 overs. Aside from Luke Ronchi's 53-ball 50, Wellington's middle order offered little resistance and the wicket-keeper's dismissal saw his side slump to 116-8.

The visitors did at least add 58 runs for the final two wickets, with No 10 Anurag Verma's 26 accounting for the second-highest score, but Colin de Grandhomme (4-31) soon wrapped up the innings to secure all four bowling bonus points.


And Auckland then emphasised their advantage by reaching 72-1 and ending the day 102 runs in arrears, with Michael Guptill-Bunce (33no) and Robbie O'Donnell (30no) set to resume tomorrow morning.

Elsewhere, Canterbury struck three times late in the day to edge near parity in their match against Central Districts at Saxton Oval. Canterbury, the closest challengers to the two table-toppers, also struggled through their first innings with the bat, being dismissed for 204 as Navin Patel took 4-37.

Only Peter Fulton (89) enjoyed his outing, with the Canterbury captain the last man out as Patel denied him a shot at his 19th first-class century. In reply, though, Central Districts suffered similar difficulties, slumping to 52-3 at stumps after Kyle Jamieson and Todd Astle combined to take three wickets in the final eight overs.

It was a similar story at University Oval, with ball again dominating bat as Otago welcomed Northern Districts. Brad Wilson struck 97 as the visitors were bundled out for 237, with James Baker dismissing the opener agonisingly short of recording three figures against his former team.

But after Baker (3-42), Scott Kuggeleijn (3-72) and Tony Goodin (4-50) had put their side in a strong position, the batsmen were unable to reap the rewards as the home side reduced ND to 53-2 at the close of play.