Colin Munro played a major role in helping Auckland qualify for the grand final of the Ford Trophy with victory against Central Districts in the first preliminary final in New Plymouth today.

Munro, who was Worcestershire's overseas player in the NatWest T20 Blast last summer, had finished the group stages with 297 runs at an average of 59.40.

And he continued that good form with another rapid half century to help rescue his side from a disastrous start after they had elected to bat.

Munro came to the wicket with Auckland 17-3 after losing three wickets at that total and smote 53 off just 38 balls to start the fightback.

The 27-year-old hit 10 fours and a six in his quickfire knock.

Munro finished as Worcestershire's second highest run-scorer behind skipper Daryl Mitchell in the T20 Blast last summer.

With Colin de Grandhomme making 63 off 64 balls, Auckland were able to reach 260 all out in 49.3 overs despite 4-44 from Doug Bracewell.

Then Tarun Nethula's four wicket burst destroyed the Central Districts middle order as they were dismissed for 215 in 43.3 overs.

Auckland will contest the final on February 1.

But Central Districts will have another chance to reach the grand final – and set up a rematch with Auckland – if they defeat Otago in the second preliminary final on Wednesday.