Northern Districts have been taught some harsh lessons after their first loss in the Plunket Shield competition this season.
The SkyCity Knights put in a mixed performance against the table-topping Canterbury Wizards at Christchurch's Hagley Oval over the past four days, going down to the hosts by six wickets.
ND sit fourth on the ladder after four of 10 rounds and, despite the setback, coach James Pamment said his players would come out the other side well.
"There's a lot of learning for us to take from this game," he said.
"And we are encouraged that a lot of the players that are playing for us at the moment, they're still relatively inexperienced."
Having been sent in on Thursday, the visitors could muster only 176 and therefore no batting bonus points, while the Cantabs took their maximum four bowling points.
"Sometimes games of cricket start in conditions that favour the bowlers and had we won the toss and bowled first, then potentially we might have put them under the same pressure," Pamment said, but added that "we didn't manage that first innings very well at all".
Fighting back with the ball, ND had Canterbury 152-7 on day two but a frustrating lower-order fightback saw the Wizards reach 382 on a wicket which did not turn and offered only a bit of variable bounce.
Andy Ellis, who strained a side while bowling, led the way with 142 - his second consecutive century - after being dropped early in his knock by Daniel Vettori at third slip.
"We'd utilised very good disciplines and been very patient to that point, and we just went searching a little bit rather than just doing the things that we'd been doing really well," Pamment said.
Both teams collected three bonus points in that innings and the Knights faced a big deficit of 206.
Aiming to bat five sessions, the visitors were put in a decent position by Joe Carter (81) and Daryl Mitchell (103), who shared in a 170-run third-wicket stand to get ND to 238-2, however they collapsed to end the third day 312-9.
"Unfortunately to lose seven wickets in that evening session just wasn't good enough, wasn't first class, there were some poor decisions made. And guys have acknowledged that, and they'll learn from that and they'll improve," Pamment said.
Jono Boult (47) and Jimmy Baker (16no) fought hard to put on 53 for the last wicket and at least give ND something to bowl at.
Canterbury required 159, and when they were 15-2, the Knights sniffed a chance but 64 from Dean Brownlie guided his team to the 12 outright win points.
Pamment said his side simply did not play enough good cricket for long enough.
Their next match begins next Friday against the bottom-of-the-table Auckland Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval.
Pamment does not envisage personnel changes, apart from the need to replace Vettori, who is linking up with the Brisbane Heat for the Big Bash League.
- Waikato Times
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