Unbeaten Auckland have a royal chance to build their Plunket Shield lead against Otago at Eden Park's outer oval today.

The big win over closest rivals Wellington in their fifth round clash left Auckland 18 points clear at the top of the table. Otago, in fifth place, have lost offspinner Nathan McCullum to the Pakistan Super League, while opener Hamish Rutherford is struggling after a blow to the head in the last match. Former Auckland player Anaru Kitchen is cover.

Auckland have recalled fast-medium Lockie Ferguson for Michael Barry in an otherwise unchanged 12.

"We can't take their record so far with the red ball for granted," Auckland coach Mark O'Donnell said.


"[Captain] Rob Nicol and I have asked the guys to step up in recent weeks and it has been pleasing to see them do that and to have contributions made by a range of players."

In other games, second-placed Wellington face Central Districts in Napier while Northern Districts host Canterbury in Hamilton.

Points after five rounds: Auckland 79, Wellington 61, Canterbury 51, ND 44, Otago 36, CD 29.

The New Zealand women's team start their ODI Rosebowl series against Australia at Mt Maungaui's Bay Oval tomorrow. The following two matches are at the same venue on Monday and Wednesday.