Scott Kuggeleijn was left six runs short of a meritorious century as the Nothern Knights fought back against the Wellington Firebirds in Whangarei today.
The all rounder was left unbeaten on 94 when the hosts were dismissed at the end of day one of their penultimate ninth round match of the first-class season.
His knock helped the Knights recover from 119-6 to make 288 all out.
Kuggeleijn and Ish Sodhi put on an up-tempo 72 for the seventh wicket to give a little impetus to a struggling innings in the Plunket Shield fixture at Cobham Oval and then rapidly accelerated with Nothern nine down.
With support from James Baker (16) in a 63-run stand for the 10th wicket in less than 10 overs against the second new ball, Kuggeleijn tallied nine fours and three sixes in his 136-ball stay.
Sodhi, left out of the New Zealand side for the second test against India at the Basin Reserve, made a quickfire 46 off 55 deliveries, striking two sixes and five fours.
Former Black Caps allrounder Grant Elliott led the visiting bowling attack with career-best figures of 5-33 off 17 overs, while former Knights stalwart Brent Arnel took 3-75 off 25.
Knights skipper Daniel Flynn won the toss and chose to bat but he only lasted six balls before falling to Arnel. Fellow opener Brad Wilson (37) and promising youngster Joe Carter (56) then produced an 85-run stand for the second wicket before wickets began to fall regularly.
The Knights - already without New Zealand test players Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, BJ Watling and Corey Anderson - lost NZ A batsman Daryl Mitchell to a thumb injury before the match, with Jono Hickey coming into the XI as his replacement.
The hosts are bottom of the Shield table with 51 points, while the Firebirds started the round in fourth with 60 points, desperately needing an outright win to help catch leaders Canterbury Wizards (85 points).
Northern Knights v Wellington Firebirds
Cobham Oval, Whangarei
Northern first innings
BS Wilson c JEC Franklin b GD Elliott 37
DR Flynn lbw BJ Arnel 0
JF Carter c JEC Franklin b GD Elliott 56
JD Hickey c LJ Woodcock b BJ Arnel 10
Bharat Popli b GD Elliott 2
MJ Santner lbw GD Elliott 0
SC Kuggeleijn not out 94IS Sodhi c L Ronchi b GD Elliott 46
RM Christopherson c FJ Colson b BJ Arnel 12
GW Aldridge c L Ronchi b MR Gillespie 4
JD Baker c MHW Papps b AJ McKay 16
Extras (lb 2, wd 5, nb 4) 11
Total (for 10 wickets, 95.2 overs) 288
Fall: 1-0 (DR Flynn, 1.6), 2-85 (BS Wilson, 33.3), 3-104 (JF Carter, 39.1), 4-106 (Bharat Popli, 43.1), 5-106 (MJ Santner, 43.6), 6-119 (JD Hickey, 55.4), 7-191 (IS Sodhi, 73.3), 8-220 (RM Christopherson, 85.2), 9-225 (GW Aldridge, 86.5), 10-288 (JD Baker, 95.2) Bowling: MR Gillespie 22-7-81-1 (1w, 3nb), BJ Arnel 25-7-75-3, JEC
Franklin 5-0-21-0 (1nb), AJ McKay 18.2-6-37-1, GD Elliott 17-6-33-5, LJ Woodcock 8-2-39-0
- Fairfax Media
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?