Northern Knights denied by Otago Volts tactics
Chasing 154 off 22 overs is eminently achievable in Twenty20 cricket - but a lot harder in a first-class game.
The Northern Knights were reminded of that on Saturday when they were unable to grab what would have been a stunning outright win over the Otago Volts in effectively two days in Whangarei.
The Knights fell 30 runs short, while Otago were three wickets away from victory too in a four-day match at Cobham Oval that saw the first two days entirely rained out.
The hosts dictated play when it began on Friday, and were the only team with a realistic shot at the 12 points for grabs for an outright win on Saturday when Otago resumed their second innings at 44-1, still needing another 83 runs to make Northern bat again.
On a good wicket, the Volts built their second innings around a patient 80 from Jesse Ryder, compiled from 163 balls. Add in 44 from opener Ryan Duffy, 55 from allrounder Nathan McCullum and 34 from fellow allrounder Jimmy Neesham, and it looked like the visitors had worked their way to safety.
However, they lost their last four wickets for 10 runs to give Northern a sniff at outright victory, after veteran seamer Graeme Aldridge led the way with 4-50 and Daniel Vettori took 3-73 off 29 overs.
That left the Knights with a target teams would always fancy in the Twenty20 format, but the Volts were able to combat the hosts without the rules of the shortest format.
"You don't have those fielding restriction in first-class cricket," Knights coach James Pamment said.
"So they could put nine men on the boundary. Then they could bowl two balls wide of off stump, two wide of leg stump and two bouncers every over for 22 overs.
"There were just no boundary options for us - all the segments were covered up. They did it pretty smartly from their point of view."
Knights captain Daniel Flynn opened with 29 off 25 balls but the hosts lost regular wickets trying to maintain a high run rate. Neesham was the chief benefactor, taking 5-65 off 11 overs.
Pamment said when Otago skipper Derek de Boorder declared with his team in the mire at 93-6 batting first on day three, the decision could be read two ways.
"You could see it as being a move to deny us bowling points, our as one to accelerate the game in search of a result."
A dropped catch of Neesham before he got going in the second innings also proved costly.
"We made all the running and had a really positive attitude, but it was always a challenge," Pamment said.
The Knights slipped to fourth on the shield table after only being able to claim two first innings bowling points from the match. They next face the table-topping Canterbury Wizards in Christchurch starting on Thursday.