Batting jitters back: Knights all out for 217
The first-innings run droughts which plagued the Northern Knights in the first half of their Plunket Shield campaign reappeared in Queenstown yesterday.
Sent in after the Otago Volts won the toss, the Knights crumbled after a handy start - and after a brief lower-order revival - to be dismissed for 217.
In reply, the hosts reached 135-2 at stumps, with promising opener Hamish Rutherford unbeaten on 82, leaving the defending first-class champions on the back foot with three days remaining.
"We had a couple of decisions - an lbw and a caught behind - that went against us that on another day might have gone in our favour," Knights assistant coach James Pamment said.
"But there was a lack of composure that cost us."
The Knights got through to 63 without loss before Joseph Yovich (26) fell and wickets tumbled regularly soon after, with prospective New Zealand opener Daniel Flynn making 32 off 40 balls before becoming one of three consecutive scalps for forgotten Black Caps surprise callup last year, Sam Wells.
Middle order batsman Daryl Mitchell continued his recent run of consistent scores by making 60 from 113 balls in just over three hours and when he found support from Ish Sodhi it seemed the visitors might pick up some much-needed first-innings batting points.
Sodhi made a rapid 52 from 74 balls, featuring seven fours, but when he fell to former ND pace tearaway Ian Butler the innings collapsed, with the SkyCity Knights losing their last four wickets for six runs.
"Ish has done tremendously well to get 50 but just hasn't refocused after bringing up his 50 the previous ball," Pamment said.
Butler proved to be the chief destroyer, capturing 6-65 off 19.4 overs to continue his run of success against his old team-mates.
"Otago are on a hot run - this is their 19th game and they've only lost two games. A lot of things are going for them but they caught well and Ian Butler was very relentless," Pamment said.
Rutherford, son of former New Zealand captain Ken, likes to get his runs quickly and did so again at the Queenstown Events Centre ground, racing to 82 not out off 105 balls, striking 11 fours.
The Knights entered the seventh match of their shield campaign in third spot on the points table, needing an outright victory - and preferably with maximum bonus points from first innings batting and bowling - to help chase second-placed Otago and leaders the Central Districts Stags.