Brittle top order leaves Northern Knights off pace

Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012
Joseph Yovich
STIFF RESISTANCE: Joseph Yovich was the only Northern Knights specialist batsman to emerge with credit from the loss to the Auckland Aces.

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The Northern Knights already have ground to make up in their attempt to defend their Plunket Shield title.

The defending first-class champs were humbled in three days by the Auckland Aces in Auckland and have just seven points after the first two rounds.

The hosts at Eden Park Outer Oval narrowly avoided a nervous night's wait by dismissing the Knights for 196 in their second innings yesterday and then notching the 13 runs required for a 10-wicket victory right on stumps of day three of the scheduled four-day match.

The outright defeat puts the Knights - who just missed scoring an opening home win over Otago last week - more than 14 points behind Central Districts, Otago and Wellington.

For the second time in the match, the Knights' batting failed to fire on a good wicket, with opener Joseph Yovich again the only specialist bat to emerge with any credit. The first-innings century-maker made 42 off 76 balls and only a last-wicket stand worth 46 between Brent Arnel (24) and James Baker (16no) gave Auckland cause for concern with rain forecast for today.

"To say it was disappointing would be an understatement," Knights coach Grant Bradburn said.

"It wasn't a good game for us all-round, and there's things for us to work on in all departments. The players are bitterly disappointed that they weren't anywhere near at their best."

Bradburn said his side failed to respect the basics of batting by not playing straight and committing to time at the crease.

"Good hard cricket was required, nothing fancy."

The Knights have only made one substantial total in four innings to date in the first-class arena this season and that came with the substantial help of Daniel Flynn, who is now with the Black Caps in Sri Lanka.

However, they are hopeful of getting New Zealand wicketkeeper/batsman BJ Watling back in time for their round three match against the Central Stags in Gisborne starting on Saturday.

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- Waikato

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