Bracewell fends off Knights
Michael Bracewell proved the major sticking point for the Northern Knights in Dunedin yesterday.
The Otago Volts batsman made an unbeaten century at the University Oval to help the hosts reach 305-8 at stumps on the opening day of their Plunket Shield encounter.
Batting at number three and coming in after just seven balls, Bracewell was at the crease for 379 minutes before stumps were pulled after 90.4 overs on a slightly rain-interrupted day. He faced 268 balls and hit 19 fours and a six to deny the visitors after a promising start.
The visitors had earlier reduced Otago 29-3 in the 12th over. Black Caps test opener Hamish Rutherford, under pressure to hold his place in the New Zealand side for the tour of the West Indies, made a golden duck when perishing to Graeme Aldridge.
The veteran Knights seamer picked up two more quick wickets in unwanted Black Caps Aaron Redmond (0) and Jesse Ryder (10), but Otago recovered chiefly through the efforts of Bracewell.
He got support from test newcomer Jimmy Neesham. The allrounder, who made a century on test debut against India at the Basin Reserve last week, struck an aggressive 68 to pull the hosts back to a level pegging.
Neesham hit 12 fours and a six in his 69-ball stay as he added 97 for the fifth wicket with Bracewell after Neil Broom (57) had also provided solid support.
Aldridge finished the day with 3-83 from 22.5 overs while fellow seamer Scott Kuggeleijn took 3-55 off 20 overs in the two teams' final four-day first-class match of the 2013/14 season.
The last-round encounter carries little weight, with the Shield having already been won by Canterbury. However, the Knights will want to avoid the wooden spoon - they currently sit in bottom spot - after winning the domestic Twenty20 title earlier this summer.