Feisty Northern Districts poised for victory
A feisty display with bat and ball has put the Northern Knights within distance of a rapid Plunket Shield win over the Canterbury Wizards in Christchurch.
The visitors to Hagley Oval need a further 47 runs to win with six wickets in hand after another day of the bowlers holding the upper hand.
The Knights began day two of the scheduled four-day match 64 runs down after being rolled for just 108 on Thursday in reply to the hosts' 172. But after dismissing the hosts for 149 in their second dig, the SkyCity Knights knuckled down to reach 167-4 at stumps yesterday.
"The game is on fast-forward," Knights coach Grant Bradburn acknowledged after batting proved troublesome on the new wicket block.
"It did a little bit all day again," he said of the pitch.
"It's one of those wickets where good line and length is going to be challenging. It has nipped around and guys have combined swing in the wind with some seam movement off the pitch, which was reflected in another 14 wickets falling."
Highly promising batsman Tom Latham was the only Canterbury player to make headway with the bat in his team's second innings, scoring 42 off just 46 balls, hitting six fours.
"He picked off runs when he could and capitalised on anything full or loose - he's a fine player and it was a really good wicket to get," Bradburn said of the bouncer from Anurag Verma that brought about Latham's demise.
Brent Arnel was again to the fore with the ball for the Knights, taking 3-38 off 12.3 overs to give him match figures of 8-93. In doing so he became the most prolific wicket-taker in the first-class competition this season with 38 scalps.
He had strong support from Graeme Aldridge (3-35), Verma (2-26) and Daryl Mitchell (2-27) as the visiting seam attack combined well in bowling partnerships.
The Knights then got valuable contributions from Joseph Yovich (45 off 82 balls), Brad Wilson (40 off 72) and BJ Watling (48 not out from 79) after Black Caps batsmen Daniel Flynn and Kane Williamson failed.
"We really aimed to spend some time at the wicket, put partnerships together and blunt initial attack, so things would become a bit easier with the ball a bit softer," Bradburn said.