11th Match: Northern Districts v Auckland at Hamilton, 28-31 Dec 2001|
Northern Districts 2nd innings:
Auckland 2nd innings:
ND WIN BY 5 WICKETSNorthern Districts beat Auckland by five wickets with 2.1 overs to spare.
With 53 still to get, five wickets remaining and a number of batsmen in indifferent form, ND supporters were nervous as play resumed after drinks.
The scoring rate slowed as Grant Bradburn and Hamish Marshall sought to rebuild. Though under constant pressure - as were the umpires from a series of raucous appeals - they remained calm, collecting singles and twos as they could.
The final turning point came in the sixtieth over when Bradburn hit Walker for two boundaries. This match has seen a resurgence in the off-spinning allrounder's form. His experience and unflappability were vital as the ship was steered safely home.
Walker was in a dilemma over his field placing. Put the men back and the batsmen could milk the ones and twos, bring them up and the boundaries were open. He settled on a one-saving ring, hoping to increase the pressure as the overs wound down.
Bradburn chose the balls to hit over the top, hitting fours in successive overs off Canning and Haslam in ths manner.
11 runs were needed from four overs. Marshall twice found the mid-wicket boundary and an overthrow gave ND the winning run.
The unbroken Hamish Marshall/ Bradburn partnership for the sixth wicket was worth 53. Marshall finished with 34, Bradburn 25.
ND are in second place on the State Championship table, one point above Auckland and four behind new leaders Canterbury. The State Championship now takes a break of five weeks while the one-day State Shield is played.
A mini-collapse before drinks has kept Auckland in with a sniff of a chance.
The scoring rate went up a notch after tea as the batsmen revelled in the excellent batting conditions. Auckland skipper Walker tried various combinations of spin and seam to no avail.
Styris supported Marshall well, and produced some good shots of his own. Adams was convinced that he had Styris lbw early in his innings as he moved across to the offside.
Marshall reached his century forty minutes after tea. It came from 141 balls, included 11 fours and two sixes and was the second of his first-class career.
He gave one difficult chance when he was 85. Nicol dived a long way to his left at backward point, but failed to hold on to a powerfully hit cut.
Marshall played confidently all around the wicket, but the timing and placement of his offside drives was particularly memorable. It was good to see him once again showing the talent and promise that was so evident earlier in his career.
Styris fell to a catch by Canning at backward point off Walker for 29. He and Marshall put on 64 for the third wicket, the third successive fifty partnership of the innings.
James Marshall was joined by twin brother Hamish, which increased the speed of the running between the wickets. However, the centurion was out before they had spent much time together. A top-edge from an attempted sweep off Walker was caught by Mills at long leg.
With the match not quite won, debutant Grant Robinson came in. He survived a histrionic appeal for caught behind off Haslam, but was given lbw next ball for a duck.
An excellent day's cricket has been enjoyed by a larger crowd than is usually present at Championship games.
The Andre Adams effect began to work again straight after drinks when he dismissed Matthew Hart. The left hander edged a ball that went across him, providing keeper Reece Young with an easy catch.
Haslam kept things tight from the City End, with only seven runs coming from his first six overs. Marshall broke the stranglehold by lofting Haslam over the mid-wicket boundary for the second six of his innings. It also brought up the opener's fifty, in 74 deliveries.
A straight drive off Adams took Marshall to his highest domestic first-class score for two seasons.
Mark Bailey was also timing the ball well after a lean start to the season. He also hit a mid-wicket six off Haslam before being dismissed by the same bowler. A sharp edge from an attempted cut was well taken by McIntosh at slip. Bailey's scored 20 from 38 balls, putting on 51 in 12 overs with Marshall.
Walker came on from the Members' End to give us an all-spin attack for the first time in the match. He got some sharp turn and was encouraged by the amount of bounce left in the pitch, but gave Marshall too much width outside off stump.
Fragile as the ND batting can be, it is difficult to envisage a match-losing collapse in these good batting conditions. A win would take ND above Auckland on the State Championship table.
After a quiet first few overs the ND innings began to gain momentum with four boundaries coming in a five-over period against the bowling of Canning and Mills.
Of the opening batsmen James Marshall found his touch quickest. From successive balls in Mills' sixth over Marshall hooked a four, flicked a six over mid-wicket and on drove a full toss for another four.
With Marshall scoring at liberty on the onside while six fielders stood redundantly on the off, it was no surprise to see Mills removed from the attack.
He was replaced by slow left-armer Haslam, brought into the attack 78 overs earlier than in the first innings.Haslam settled into a good rhythm straight away, maintaining on off-stump line that caused Hart several moments of uncertainty.
Marshall brought up the fifty with an off-driven four off Canning. He contributed 33, Hart 12. It came up in the sixteenth over, within reach of the 3.7 an over needed by ND.
There were several lbw shouts in the opening phase of the innings, the closest of which was when Marshall played across a Canning full toss.
Andre Adams was introduced into the attack from the Members' End before drinks. He has been the dominant figure in the match so far, but failed to make an immediate difference. Hart hit him for two offside boundaries in his first over.
The performances of the batsmen are finally living up to the descriptions of the pitch, which is offering little help to the bowlers. However, too much of the Auckland bowling has been wayward. Rapid improvement is necessary if the visitors are to stay in the game.
Adams reached his fifty in the first over after drinks. It came from 46 balls and included three fours and three sixes.
He fell for 60, two short of a career-best. The extra pace of Yovich meant that a pull destined for the mid-wicket boundary ended up in the hands of Matthew Hart at long on.
Adams' method was simple. If the ball was pitched up he aimed straight, short and it went square, both achieved with a minimum of footwork.
As well as being a potentially match-winning innings for his side, it gave Adams' claims for selection in the Black Caps one-day squad a strong push, following his 5/70 in ND's first innings.
First innings top-scorer Nick Horsley came in at No 10 having been unable to bat earlier after sustaining a blow on the head on the first day.
The knock did not appear to have affected his memories of the first innings, as he took up in the same counterattacking vein at once. A silky off drive for four off Yovich was as good a shot as we have seen in the match.
It didn't last long, with Horsley's next drive caught by Matthew Hart at cover.
Having started the day trying to save the game, Auckland were now trying to hurry things along to give themselves enough time to win it. Walker took over the attacking role, hooking successive Yovich deliveries for four. He was out on the stroke of lunch caught by Bailey at second slip off Tuffey.
Walker was one short of the half century that he richly deserved, having held the latter part of the auckland innings together. He hit seven fours in 130 deliveries.
Yovich finished with 25-2-102-6, to give him the first ten-wicket match haul of his career.
The pitch is at its most batsman-friendly. It has lost a bit of pace, but the ball is still coming onto the bat well, with mostly predictable bounce. ND's target is certainly attainable, but if Auckland bowl this afternoon as well as they batted this morning victory could be theirs.
ND began with its most successful combination of day three, Bradburn and Yovich.
Mills hit a four off both bowlers before falling to Bradburn, caught and bowled. The bowler moved quickly to his left to intercept a hard-hit drive, the ball never being more than half a metre off the ground. It was Bradburn's first wicket of the season.
Andre Adams got off a pair with an edge before starting the onslaught. His first boundary was a six off Bradburn, high over mid-wicket. Yovich switched ends to replace the off spinner, with Butler coming on from the Members' End.
The seventy-second over of the innings began with an edged four over the slips, followed by a gloriously straight-driven six. A pull climbed to the height of Westpac Trust Park's new floodlights, Daryl Tuffey's desperate attempt to meet the ball on its return to earth just failing.
With the Auckland lead rising fast, Styris replaced Yovich in an attempt to slow the scoring rate. However, the attack continued from the other end with Butler's eighteenth over, from which Adams scored 13, including a hooked six.
Bradburn returned from the Members' End in a bid to stem the flow. The fifty partnership came up in 12 overs, with Walker contributing only two of them.
Auckland have levelled the game up this morning. Another half hour of Adams and they will be well ahead.
Blue skies and a good forecast mean that the State Championship game between Northern Districts and Auckland will be played to a conclusion.
But what will that conclusion be?
Auckland resume on 189/6 a lead of 129. ND coach Bruce Blair told CricInfo that he would feel very confident chasing anything less than 200.
Though the game has been low-scoring, the pitch remains sound, though is likely to offer some assistance to spinners Walker and Haslam, as it should on the fourth day.
Kyle Mills is the key man for Auckland this morning. His 33 not out has included seven fours and a few slices of luck, but an hour of well-chosen hitting this morning could change the game.
ND will also wish to cut down on the no-balls, of which there were 20 yesterday, a reasonable late Christmas present in a tight game.
The outcome will have a huge impact on aspirations for the rest of the first-class season, especially for ND. A win would put them a point ahead of Canterbury in the State Championship table, a loss would leave them 11 points behind.
Play begins at 10.30am.
Date-stamped : 31 Dec2001 - 10:35