Green was the colour of the day, with bowlers getting a helping hand when the penultimate round of the Plunket Shield began today.

Everywhere you looked, from Dunedin's University Oval, through Hagley Oval and up to the Basin Reserve in Wellington, the pitches were bright green, in a couple of cases barely distinguishable from the surrounding areas.

Leaders Auckland, two solid performances away from winning the first-class title, were rolled in just 34 overs for 152 by Wellington. Only allrounder Donovan Grobbelaar got to 25; no one else past 15.

Veteran seamer Brent Arnel knows what's needed in these conditions and finished with five for 51, the 14th bag of five or more for the 37-year-old.


Wellington, needing outright points to stay on Auckland's tail, were 130 for four when bad light set in, Scott Borthwick having made 42, Michael Pollard on 42 and Tom Blundell on 23.

In Christchurch, Northern Districts reached 185 against Canterbury, on the back of late runs from Joe Walker (36 not out) and Tim Seifert (29). They had been 85 for six, test wicketkeeper BJ Watling making a duck. Canterbury were eight for one at the end of the day.

Central Districts got to 258 at University Oval, after being sent in. Captain Will Young got to 59, playing some handsome stroke until falling lbw to Anaru Kitchen, while Dane Cleaver ran himself out at 93, slipping before setting off on a tight second run to the danger end. Jacob Duffy finished with five for 96.

At stumps, bottom team Otago were four for two.