It was a bad day for Plunket Shield leaders Auckland to twiddle their thumbs in the Dunedin rain today.

While Auckland, who hold a 17-point lead over Canterbury, lost a day's activity, their closest pursuers were off to a strong start in their eighth-round match against Wellington on a bright green Hagley Oval.

Canterbury, chasing a third successive first-class crown, reduced Wellington to 101 for eight, although it could have been far worse as Wellington tumbled from 16-1 to 41-6 and later 78-8.

With the exception of English professional Scott Borthwick, unbeaten on 35 after 159 minutes, and 25 from veteran spinner Jeetan Patel, Wellington were helpless against the seaming ball. Medium pacer Andrew Ellis finished the day with figures of 15-5-11-4.


In Hamilton, on another green strip, Northern Districts overcome an early hiccup to be in a strong position against Central Districts.

Test seamer Doug Bracewell dismissed Dean Brownlie and test wicketkeeper BJ Watling in the space of four balls in his fourth over. However, experienced Daniel Flynn and Bharat Popli carried on their fine scoring feats of the summer with centuries.

ND were 330-4 at stumps, with Flynn and Popli's stand of 258 for the third wicket anchoring the innings.

It was three runs shy of the ND record for that wicket, held by Matthew Maynard and Shane Thomson against Auckland on the same ground in the 1990-91 season.

For both batsmen, it was their third century of the Plunket Shield season and, in Flynn's case, his 19th in first-class cricket. He was strong off the back foot in his 334-minute innings, which included 26 fours.

Popli is the leading run-getter in the competition, on 842 runs, and will start the day on 138 (off 286 balls).