Who will lock it up?

Nailbiting day four in store for Plunket Shield

New Zealand's first-class champion will be found tomorrow on a nail-biting final day of the 2016/17 season, with just two teams — defending champions the Auckland Aces and Canterbury — now left in the running.

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With an outright win worth 12 points, the Auckland Aces need to defeat the Central Stags on the final day in Napier to have a chance of defending their title (they must also hope Canterbury is denied an outright of their own by the Firebirds).

The Aces are closing in. PHOTOSPORT

The Aces were in a good position by stumps on day three, having built a 209-run second innings lead with six wickets still in hand.

Canterbury meanwhile leads the Wellington Firebirds by just 59 runs and with only four wickets in hand at Hagley Oval, captain Ellis at the crease on 34* overnight and wicketkeeper-batsman Cameron Fletcher yet to get off the mark. None of their top five batsmen reached a score of more than 15 in an action-packed afternoon.

Canterbury captain Andrew Ellis has a title fight on his hands. PHOTOSPORT

After having taken a total of only four first innings bonus points in Dunedin, Northern Districts' hopes have meanwhile been extinguished, but a sensational performance from ND leg-spinner Ish Sodhi put the Otago Volts' second innings in a spin. Volts captain Brad Wilson declared at 189 for eight after Sodhi had bagged a career-best seven for 59 — his second first-class seven-for in the space of four matches, and the third of his first-class career overall.

Sodhi's haul was also the first time he had taken 10 or more wickets in a match, finishing with a match analysis of 11 for 189.

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