Auckland's charge toward the HRV Cup final continues while Canterbury's suffered a potentially fatal blow as the hosts scored a 12-run win at Auckland.
Leaders Auckland Aces amassed 180 for eight from their 20 overs batting first in perfect conditions at Colin Maiden Park and restricted Canterbury Wizards to 168 for nine, the hosts securing their fifth win of the competition and moving to 24 points, six clear of second-placed Northern Knights, though they have played two extra matches.
Canterbury, with 12 points from three wins and four losses, must now win their final three matches and even then will need to rely on other results to have any chance of making the January 2 final.
A consistent batting effort paved the way for Auckland's win as Colin de Grandhomme, Colin Munro (both 37), Anaru Kitchen (34) and Gareth Hopkins (30) all made handy contributions at good strike rates.
They were going at 10 runs an over for most of the innings but the regular loss of wickets meant they could not push on to a 200-plus score as Canterbury's Dutch import, Ryan ten Doeschate, continued his impressive campaign with two for 20 from three overs.
It appeared Auckland would canter to the win when Canterbury lost three for 13 to be 72 for five, but a seventh-wicket partnership of 54 off 33 balls between big-hitting Corey Anderson (44 from 27) and allrounder Andrew Ellis (26 from 17) dragged them back into the match.
With Canterbury requiring 22 runs from the final two overs, left-armer Michael Bates bowled a brilliant over of yorkers to concede just four runs and effectively seal the match, while Kyle Mills repeated the dose in the final over to finish with three for 30 from four overs.