Northern Districts still capable of stinging Volts
They may be without six Black Caps, but the Northern Knights have still been able to name a strong, well-balanced side for their next Plunket Shield match.
The Knights face the Otago Volts at Whangarei's Cobham Oval starting today minus Tim Southee, Trent Boult, B J Watling, Corey Anderson, Ish Sodhi and the injured Kane Williamson.
However, the hosts have been able to replace them with several experienced performers and some in-form youngsters.
Seamers Graeme Aldridge, James Baker and Anurag Verma are joined by batsman Joe Carter, wicketkeeper-batsman Cam Fletcher and offspinner Jono Boult.
Knights coach James Pamment is happy with the depth of talent he has to work with.
"We're almost back to the team we had [in round one] against Auckland, which I thought played very well," Pamment said.
"We're still fortunate to have the experience of Daniel Flynn leading the team, Daniel Vettori, Graeme Aldridge ... and you've got the young players with their enthusiasm high.
"The most important aspect is that we've retained very good balance within the squad. We have a world class left-arm spinner, a very good offspinner and four seam options, all of whom are uniquely different in their own way."
Fletcher enters the four-day encounter on the back of three centuries for Counties Manukau in his last four innings, Carter made a double ton recently for ND-A, while Baker and Verma played for the NZ XI against a West Indies XI in Lincoln last week.
Pamment is certain Jesse Ryder will play despite sitting out the NZ XI match with injury, while the visitors are also without several players because of national team duties.
"They're a good all-round side like us," Pamment said.
"They'll miss Neil Wagner, and Aaron Redmond's runs, but they've got guys who can come in and cover those roles reasonably comfortably.
"They play positive cricket, so we need to be extremely patient and make sure that our disciplines are accurate."
Rain is forecast throughout the next four days, and while Pamment said an undercover wicket may freshen up a little, he expects a good surface should the weather play ball.
"It was a very good wicket when we played here last year in a high scoring game versus Wellington.
"It did turn a bit last year, Jeetan Patel and Ish Sodhi bowled well on it."
The Knights are second on a congested Plunket Shield points table, with 23 points from two matches while Otago lead with 25 points.