Knights rookies show fighting spirit
Two Northern Knights rookies finally showed the fighting spirit with the bat their side were desperately seeking today.
Daryl Mitchell and Ish Sodhi ensured the four-day encounter at Gisborne's Harry Barker Reserve against the Central Stags would reach the final day.
However, their resilience was still highly unlikely to stop the hosts from falling to a second defeat in as many Plunket Shield matches.
At stumps, Central were 2-0, requiring just another 93 runs for outright victory. The Knights made 252 in their second innings, with Mitchell top scoring with 83.
The 21-year-old son of former All Blacks coach and Waikato skipper John Mitchell eschewed his usual attacking approach with his side in dire need of a big score, taking four minutes over six hours while facing 258 balls and hitting six boundaries.
Mitchell's best first-class score in his three previous matches for the association was 42, and with an average of 18.75 his place in a faltering batting lineup was in jeopardy.
Twenty-year-old legspinning allrounder Sodhi made 50 off 96 balls, including six fours, to surpass his previous first-class best with the bat of 48 not out on debut against Otago at Seddon Park earlier this month.
"It was great to see Daryl, in particular, and Ish get scores and show the commitment and determination to bat for a long period of time," Knights coach Grant Bradburn said.
"Daryl loves to hit the ball but he played to the circumstances that were required."
Mitchell and Sodhi put on 82 for the eighth wicket to at least make the visitors bat again, while Graeme Aldridge chipped in with 38.
Earlier, the Knights top-order again faltered in good batting conditions as they set off in their second dig with a deficit of 158 after Ben Smith (64 not out) and Adam Milne (38) put on 55 for the last wicket for Central.
The defending champions slipped to 81-6 and an embarrassing innings defeat loomed before Mitchell found support from the bowling allrounders.
Which batting pair would be best at opening in ODIs for the Black Caps?