Aces hold off Knights for draw

Opener Jeet Raval made an unbeaten 106 for the Auckland Aces on day four of their Plunket Shield match against the Northern Knights, though the tie would still end in a draw.

The Knights declared first thing this morning to give the Aces a target of 398 to win. An almost impossible task, but as it turned out, so would be the Knights task of bowling out the Aces.

Raval and Tim McIntosh (60) put on 158 for the first wicket, using up over 58 overs in the process. While their run-rate meant they never threatened to reach their target, it effectively thwarted the Knight’s aspirations of an outright victory.

After McIntosh fell to Dan Vettori, the Knights were still unable to bring about a collapse. Anaru Kitchen occupied the crease with ease and alongside Raval saw out the remaining overs before the teams agreed to settle for a draw.

Just before stumps though there was time for Raval to bring up triple figures – his sixth First Class century.

Both teams take six first-innings points away from the match.

Day three: Watling century puts Knights in control

A Watling century has given the Northern Knights a lead of 397 against the Auckland Aces on day three of their Plunket Shield match at Seddon Park in Hamilton.

The Aces added just one run to their overnight total and were dismissed for 302 to give the Knights a first-innings lead of 13. In reply, the Knights stacked on 384 runs while losing nine wickets in the process. They sit in the box seat ahead of the final day and will have 95 overs to try and dismiss the Aces for the win.

Brad Wilson got things underway nicely for the Knights, making 74 and forming a solid partnership with Joe Carter (34) to help his side reach 100 for one.

The Knights lost their anchor when Wilson was dismissed by Dean Bartlett in the 51st over, but found a more than able replacement in Watling. Having scored 90 in the first-innings, he made sure he wouldn’t be denied triple figures in the second, making his tenth First Class century off 143 balls.

He found plenty of support from his middle and lower-order, with Dan Vettori (23), Scott Kuggleijn (60) and Ish Sodhi (33) all making contributions. Sodhi’s knock was full of entertainment, clobbering 24 off five balls from a Bartlett over.

At stumps the Knights had just one wicket in hand, but should have an unassailable lead.

Bartlett and Bruce Martin led the Aces bowling attack with three wicket apiece, while Matt Quinn had two scalps to his name.

Day two: Master of spin Vettori grabs five wicket-bag

Veteran spinner Daniel Vettori showed he is still New Zealand’s master of spin in his return to First Class cricket as he grabbed a five wicket bag in Hamilton today.

The 34-year-old helped his SKYCITY Northern Knights side to restrict the Auckland Aces to 277-9 on day two of their opening Plunket Shield fixture of the season at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, leaving Auckland just 38 runs behind the hosts.

Vettori, who is in his first match back after surgery on a troublesome Achilles in June, captured the key wickets of a dangerous looking Carl Cachopa (69) and the aggressive Colin de Grandhomme (50) and then annihilated the tail to finish with 5-39 off 22 overs.

The variation in Vettori’s kit bag did the damage as the master mixed it up early on and then got a bit of turn as the day wore on.

After resuming at 20-0 in reply to Northern’s 315, Auckland made slow progress with Jeet Ravel going early lbw to James Baker. Midway through the second session Ish Sodhi, fresh from his Test debut in Bangladesh, started the spin attack as he claimed the scalp of Tim McIntosh lbw for 65.

A handful of overs later Vettori made sure his young protégé wasn’t going to take all the glory as he knocked over Cachopa who had looked strong as he swept and pulled his way to 69 off 134 balls including seven fours and four sixes.

Next to go was Anaru Kitchen caught behind off Daryl Mitchell, while skipper Gareth Hopkins followed soon after going to Scott Kuggeleijn.

After drinks in the final session, Vettori trapped the trio of de Grandhomme, Bruce Martin and Dean Bartlett lbw, and then completed his five wicket bag with Matt Quinn caught close in.

Day three of the evenly-balanced four day match commences at 10.30am on Saturday, with Donovan Grobbelaar unbeaten on 37 for Auckland with one wicket in hand in their first innings.

Day one: Watling's 90 helps Northern to 315 in opening match

The Auckland Aces bowled out the Northern Knights for 315 on day one of their Plunket Shield match at Seddon Park and in reply are 20 without loss.

Having won the toss and decided to bowl first, the Aces had immediate success when Matt Quinn bowled out Knight’s captain Daniel Flynn for a golden duck. Co-opener Brad Wilson also went early for just five and the home side were 18 for two.

There were however a number of contributions to come, with young guns Joe Carter (48) and Daryl Mitchell (30) getting things started with a handy 59 run partnership for the third wicket.

BJ Watling continued their good work and played an anchor role for the rest of the innings. The 28-year-old had a number of partners, including a cameo of 36 from the returning Daniel Vettori.

Two further wickets fell, before Watling teamed up with new Knights player Scott Kuggeleijn (52) and together they put on 90 for the seventh wicket. Just as Watling was edging towards a century though, he fell to Donovan Grobbelaar on 90 to leave the Knights 268 for seven.

Kuggleijn added a few runs at the end of the innings and brought up a half-century, but after 88.1 overs the Knights were all out.

Quinn led the Aces bowling attack and finished with figures of four for 66 from 19 overs. Colin de Grandhomme also had an impact with three scalps of his own, while Grobelaar had two to his name.

Tim McIntosh (11*) and Jeet Raval (8*) saw out the remaining eight overs of the day to make sure that the Aces resume day two with all 10 wickets in hand.

Play tomorrow will commence at 10.30am.

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