Northern Districts will today be looking for a big captain's knock and the continuation of some fine form from one of their younger players, if they are to keep their Plunket Shield defence alive.
The Knights ended day two of their round-seven match against the Otago Volts in Queenstown on 141-3 with a lead of 39 runs, as they aim to set the hosts a decent second-innings target.
After Otago continued to rack up the runs yesterday morning after resuming on 135-2, the Knights fought back with the ball to give themselves a chance after having posted only 217 on Thursday after being sent in.
Hamish Rutherford brought up his fourth first-class hundred, before later in the afternoon being announced in the Black Caps Twenty20 squad for the series against England.
The left-handed opener put on 149 for the third wicket with Neil Broom, before the latter was run out by Jono Boult for 42, with the off-spinner managing to palm a Rutherford drive on to the stumps at the bowler's end to catch Broom half-asleep.
After that, the wickets tumbled fairly quickly.
Despite the bowlers working hard, they were made to toil for 61 overs to pick up their first three scalps before the remaining seven were captured inside 24 overs.
Rutherford's knock of 162 (which included 25 fours and a six) came to an end when he was caught by Joseph Yovich off the bowling of Brent Arnel, who finished with 4-98 off 23 overs as Otago weren't able to put together any partnerships of note to give them a really big lead, as they were dismissed for 319.
ND, facing a 102-run deficit, then had their work cut out with openers Yovich (13) and Daniel Flynn (21) sent packing early.
At 40-2 the visitors were desperate for a decent stand, and they got it from captain Brad Wilson and James Marshall, with the pair putting on 73, before the latter was bowled by Ian Butler, who had every right to be in good spirits after being recalled to the Black Caps' Twenty20 squad.
Wilson, who is coming off a century in his previous match, made his way through to 49 and will resume this morning with 21-year-old Daryl Mitchell (3 not out), who top-scored in the first innings with 60 and made 68 in his most recent knock before that.
"They are obviously what you might call our last two recognised batsmen with the wicketkeeper coming in at six and three all-rounders," Knights assistant coach James Pamment said.
"If we get two partnerships in the region of 80 or 90, we're right in this game on a wearing wicket. So we've battled back manfully really."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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