Martin's revenge ton gives Auckland advantage
A maiden Plunket Shield century from former Northern Districts spinner Bruce Martin has given Auckland a significant advantage midway through their clash at Eden Park Outer Oval.
The 32-year-old, whose previous ton came for New Zealand A against Sri Lanka A more than eight years ago, made an unbeaten 107 for the Aces to give them a 157-run lead over the Knights with three first innings wickets in hand.
Martin left Northern Districts three seasons ago and has since relished competing against his former team-mates with bat and ball, often producing his best performances against the Knights.
The belligerent left-arm spinner and stubborn later order batsman batted for 167 balls and struck 18 fours to the short boundaries to turn the match distinctly in the home team's favour.
Martin and Craig Cachopa (82) combined for a seventh-wicket partnership worth 168, just when it seemed the Knights had hauled their way back into the contest.
When the pair came together, Auckland were struggling at 150-6 to overcome Northern's disappointing first innings tally of 208. But the record seventh-wicket partnership for Auckland against Northern left the defending shield champions with a mammoth task to take more than three first innings bowling points from their round two clash.
"It was a very frustrating afternoon," admitted Knights coach Grant Bradburn. "We'd put in a very good effort in good batting conditions today when we were potentially staring down a big deficit - which is what we were doing at the end.
"We hit the lines and lengths nicely then went away from that in the latter stages. We lost our patience when we got a bit eager with a sense the tail was near and paid the price."
Bradburn said batsmen who were prepared to play straight and commit to time at the crease flourished.
On Saturday, veteran Knights opener Joseph Yovich was the sole saviour as he came close to carrying his bat.
The 35-year-old left hander was the ninth man out after compiling his 106 from 252 balls in 317 minutes, featuring 16 fours and a six off Martin that brought up his ton. Yovich has reinvigorated his career after the former pace bowler and lower middle-order bat was given the opening duties by Bradburn early last season.
"The wicket was fresher and the ball bounce and nipped around a bit, but Joey was prepared to get in behind it and took his opportunities when they arose. Others were guilty of playing too square too early and playing outside the eyeline."
Yovich's ton against Auckland was the fifth of his first-class career, to go along with 27 fifties, and took him past former team-mate Michael Parlane up to fifth as ND's most prolific first-class run scorer. Yovich has 4432 runs at a touch over 30.