Canterbury extend lead in Plunket Shield

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 20:09 10/02/2014

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Canterbury have opened up a handy 18-point buffer at the top of cricket's Plunket Shield, courtesy of a 64-run win over Auckland in Christchurch today.

Having set Auckland 361 to win in 90 overs, Canterbury's Todd Astle and Ryan McCone took four wickets each to help dismiss the visitors for 296.

McCone knocked the top off the Auckland batting order in his 4-75, which included the wickets of Martin Guptill, Jeet Raval, Anaru Kitchen and Colin Munro.

Astle's leg-spin helped clean up the stubborn tail and he finished with 4-57 from 20.4 overs.

Craig Cachopa was the standout for Auckland, scoring 118.

Canterbury captain Andrew Ellis heaped praise on Astle and McCone and also on the side's first innings of 328 in trying conditions.

That innings was based largely around the uncharacteristically stoic Rob Nicol who scored 66no from 222 balls and 312 minutes.

He scored more freely in the second innings as he, Dean Brownlie and Shanan Stewart all benefited from Auckland feeding runs to help create a chase on the last day.

"Credit to Auckland for being positive like that," Ellis said.

"We could have all played conservative cricket and been finished at tea on the fourth day, but this was good."

The win gives Canterbury an 18-point advantage at the top of the table over Otago with just two rounds to play.

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