Pitch continues to deliver

Runs were never an issue as the Plunket Shield match between Auckland and Canterbury ended in a draw today.

The teams shook hands after tea on the final day with the Wizards on 189 for four in their second innings after being set a victory target of 361 in 71 overs at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland.
  
While they at no stage gave the chase a shake Canterbury were largely untroubled to deny the Aces as opener George Worker scored 74 after sharing a first wicket partnership of 128 with Rob Nicol.
  
Nicol’s contribution was 59, with four fours and three sixes, while Worker hit 10 boundaries in just under three hours with 10 boundaries before Tim McIntosh backed up his earlier century by showing his safe hands to accept a catch off spinner Bhupinder Singh.
  
Canterbury were 143 for three at this stage and another 30 overs were scheduled but while Tom Latham was prised out for 25 Shanan Stewart was on 24 when stumps were drawn with 15 overs unbowled.
  
Earlier, Auckland declared their second innings at 271 for four following centuries to McIntosh and Anaru Kitchen.
  
Left-handed opener McIntosh remained unbeaten on 142 after 261 minutes for his 18th first-class century, while Kitchen posted precisely 100, his seventh century at this level.
  
These two had resumed this morning having already added 142 for the third wicket, a highly productive association that they stretched to 211 before Kitchen’s fine hand ended when Todd Astle had him caught by Andrew Ellis.

Day three: Pitch out of Auckland's grasp

Auckland may win their final Plunket Shield match against Canterbury but they can no longer overhaul Northern Districts for the title.
  
The Aces enter the final day at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland at 151 for two in their second innings, leading overall by 240 runs.
  
They entered the 10th round fixture trailing Northern Districts by 15 points and needed to garner the maximum on offer against the Wizards to have any chance of pipping the Knights.
  
But their fate was sealed today’s when Canterbury restricted them to just one bowling point by ending the 110th over of their first innings on 264 for three.
  
Canterbury forged on to reach 363 for six before declaring 89 runs behind the Aces’ opening effort of 452 for seven.
  
The southerners resumed this morning at 170 for two, with skipper Peter Fulton on 83 and gunning for his first century of the season.
  
But Fulton was denied when dismissed for 88 to mark the fifth time he had passed 50 on the first-class stage this summer without converting to three figures.
  
Stewart also missed a milestone when he departed for 49 but Canterbury were well served by left-hander Tom Latham who made 59 and Andrew Ellis, who struck three sixes and three fours in making 52 not out in 76 minutes.
  
Auckland’s second innings started badly when Neal Parlane and Andrew de Boorder were both removed for ducks by fast bowler Willie Lonsdale.
  
Former international opener Tim McIntosh and Anaru Kitchen settled things down with a fine partnership which realised 142 runs for the third wicket as both raised their second half-centuries of the match.
  
McIntosh showed he had rediscovered his touch to reach 79 not out with seven fours and two sixes while Kitchen continued his fine form with an unbeaten 71 to counter the Wizards, who tried seven different bowlers to separate them.

Day two: Batsmen enjoy conditions in Auckland

Bat continued to dominate ball in the Plunket Shield match between Auckland and Canterbury.
  
Through two days of the match at Colin Maiden Park 622 runs have been scored for the cost of just nine wickets with the teams reaching the midway point sharing the honours.
  
Canterbury resume tomorrow at 170 for two in their first innings responding to the Aces’ 452 for seven declared, a total highlighted by 125 from Colin de Grandhomme.
  
De Grandhomme took guard this morning on 81 alongside Colin Munro on 42 and the Aces at a commanding 372 for five.
  
They continued to prosper as these two extended their partnership to 202 before de Grandhomme’s 204-minute stay finished after 11 fours and one six when he edged behind off Tim Johnston.
  
Munro fell at the same score for 75 and the declaration followed.
  
Canterbury’s batsmen also found conditions to their liking as captain Peter Fulton led their response with 83 not out in just under five hours while he and opener Rob Nicol shared a second wicket stand of 152, Nicol’s contribution being a dogged 64 in 283 minutes.

Day one: Auckland make quick progress

Auckland found the runs flowing against Plunket Shield rivals Canterbury.
  
Four of their batsmen posted half-centuries as the home side reached a healthy 372 for five on the first day at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland.
  
Opener Tim McIntosh ended a lean patch with a determined 54 containing just four boundaries in 160 minute then Anaru Kitchen, captain Gareth Hopkins and Colin de Grandhomme all showed their liking for the conditions as Auckland progressed at a good rate.
 
Kitchen struck six fours and one six in reaching 76 in a little over three hours, Hopkins continued his strong recent form with 70 off 96 balls and de Grandhomme topped them all with an unbeaten 81.
  
The new limited overs international faced 120 balls, hit seven fours and one six, and enjoyed an unbroken stand of 122 for the sixth wicket with Colin Munro, who will return to the middle tomorrow on 42.
  
Andrew Ellis was easily the pick of the bowlers, with the hard working seamer taking four for 96 off 23 overs.

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