The loss of captain Rob Nicol to the last ball of the day put a dampener on proceedings for Auckland on the opening day of their Plunket Shield match against Canterbury at Rangiora today.

Auckland had rolled Canterbury for 245, but then slumped to 31 for three by stumps.

Openers Michael Guptill-Bunce, wafting outside his off stump at a Matt Henry outswinger, and Robbie O'Donnell, pulling a short ball to square leg, went early and Nicol's departure, lbw to a full length ball from seamer Kyle Jamieson means the match will be delicately balanced tomorrow.

Andrew Ellis made 53 for Canterbury, who had been sent in, while quick bowler Lockie Ferguson continued a good run with three for 51, while Donovan Grobbelaar and Cody Andrews took two wickets apiece.


Test offspinner Jeetan Patel snapped up his 24th bag of five or more wickets in a first-class innings for Wellington against Otago in Dunedin.

Having chosen to bat, Otago were dismissed for 208, slumping after being 90 for two at lunch. Michael Bracewell's 43 was their best effort while test reject Jimmy Neesham popped a catch to short leg on 11.

Patel finished with six for 55 and at stumps Wellington were well positioned at 89 for one.

Bottom-placed Central Districts' day began well with the news that former Sri Lankan great Mahela Jayawardene is returning for this summer's Super Smash T20.

Jayawardene made 249 runs at a strike rate of 143 in his four appearances last summer. This time he's back for at least eight games.

''Mahela had such a positive influence in our dressing room, for the time that he spent with us," CD coach Heinrich Malan said. ''Having someone of his calibre and experience is massive."

They then chose to bat in Nelson and were dismissed for 225 by Northern Districts of which captain Will Young made 61. Brett Hampton and Daryl Mitchell took three wickets each.

ND start tomorrow 24 for one, with captain Dean Brownlie, in line for a possible call up for the second test against Pakistan on Friday, on three.