It's been the story of Northern Districts' Plunket Shield season and another horrible batting display yesterday has them firmly on the back foot in their final match against Otago in Dunedin.
The Knights sit in last place on the competition ladder, but could still finish as high as second, with Canterbury having already wrapped up the title. But that looks a world away after they were made to follow-on on day two at the University Oval.
Resuming on 305-8, the home side were quickly dismissed for 326, with ND seamer Scott Kuggeleijn taking the remaining two wickets to finish with 5-63 off 21.3 overs - his second five-wicket bag of his first-class career.
But he was to be outdone in the next few hours by Black Caps left-armer Neil Wagner, who, fresh off a fine series against India, destroyed ND's order.
Wagner had openers Daniel Flynn and Brad Wilson out and when fellow left-armer and former ND boy Bradley Scott got Joe Carter, it was 11-3.
Returning to the fold after international duty, BJ Watling batted at No 4 for the Knights, but Wagner had him with the score at 50, then three wickets fell at 53, as Wagner had Bharat Popli caught behind, Kuggeleijn lbw for a golden duck, then rattled the stumps of Ish Sodhi, finishing with figures of 6-39 off 17 overs.
The ball was swinging, but 53-7 was sickening.
It took an unbeaten 51 from No 6 Mitchell Santner to get ND to three figures, as he and Graeme Aldridge (20) put on 68 for the eighth wicket, before the Knights were eventually rolled for 132 in only 43.4 overs.
Sent back in, ND lost Wilson early, but Flynn (37no) and Carter (67no) battled to save their side's pride, getting the visitors to 117-1 at stumps, trailing by 77.
Meanwhile, Black Caps allrounder Jimmy Neesham is in doubt for next month's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh after suffering a shoulder injury in this game.
The 23-year-old bowled eight overs for Otago in ND's first innings, but left the field and didn't return for the visitors' second innings.
Otago's medical staff were to assess Neesham's injury overnight once it had settled down.
Just last week Neesham scored a brilliant century on test debut, with his 137 not out at the Basin Reserve helping New Zealand to a series win over India.
He carried that batting form into this match, scoring 68 off 68 balls in Otago's first innings.
The Black Caps leave on March 8 for a pre-tournament camp in Abu Dhabi, then play warm-up matches against Pakistan and Australia before their tournament opener against England in Chittagong on March 22.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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