Knights crush wounded Aces

Bruce Martin will thank a fellow erstwhile Northern Knights left-arm spinner for saving his blushes after the Auckland Ace ended a hellish two days in the field with 230 runs conceded from 56 overs, for three wickets. Martin narrowly avoiding claiming Jason Donnelly's unwanted record for the most expensive bowling in Plunket Shield history (257 from 69 overs) - held by Donnelly since 2010 when the former Wizard was playing against the Knights, a side he would later join.

Martin's pain and the Knights' seemingly effortless run-fest ended only when they declared in the morning session on 614 for seven: a Northern record against their archrivals. Jono Boult had breezed to an unbeaten half-century, and the offspinner would go on to inflict the killer blows that evening as he claimed a career-best four for 37 that ensured the Knights demolished the injury-weakened Aces inside three days.

With Dean Bartlett unable to bat, Chris Martin enjoyed the unusual privilege of batting at ten after a late flurry of wickets ripped the last shreds of resistance from the Aces' second innings.

Earlier, Craig Cachopa had lifted their spirits with a bullish century, supported initially by Reece Young - who had lingered in disbelief when he was adjudged caught behind on the cusp of his half-century, having volleyed a top-edge off the forearm/glove region; and then by captain Gareth Hopkins who batted for over two and a half hours for a typically gritty 44.

Cachopa's hundred off 135 balls arrived just before tea, the Aces seemingly with hope yet at 188 for three. But a late-afternoon collapse saw seven wickets fall for just 72 runs, the Knights racking up their second victory on the trot, taking maximum points and rocketing from last to third on the table.

Day one and two: Knights on top against neighbours Auckland

On day one of the SKYCITY Northern Knights' match against the Auckland Aces, it was Auckland wickets that went flying. On day two it was longstanding batting records as the Knights drove into a commanding position against an injury-weakened Aces attack.

Captain Brad Wilson and Daniel Flynn (promoted to open the batting with Joseph Yovich) blazed their way to a 301-run stand for the second wicket, during which Flynn extended his record haul of Plunket Shield centuries for the Knights - this was his 12th, while both batsmen clicked past 3000 First-Class career runs.

Wilson also raised his bat for a century, his seventh, as the duo set a Northern Districts second wicket partnership for any wicket against Auckland.

Relishing being back on one of his favourite grounds - he scored 182 against the Volts at Seddon Park earlier this summer, and set a career-best 241 here in the 2010/11 season, Flynn's imposing 166 spanned almost six hours and included 25 boundaries and two sixes.

Wilson was eventually bowled by Chris Martin on 139, but the batting show wasn't over as James Marshall rustled up a brisk century of his own - clocking up 6000 career runs; with Daryl Mitchell contributing a half-century and the Knights steamrolling to a stumps lead of 290 with five wickets remaining.

It left the Aces sweating through a long, sticky afternoon, with Chris Martin and Bruce Martin heroically bowling a punishing 72 overs between them after the Aces' had suffered the double misfortune of losing both Dean Bartlett and Michael Bates to injury after the first day's play.

In the box seat for an innings victory, the run-fest came after 22-year-old Anurag Verma's career-best seven for 82 yesterday, in only his second First-Class appearance and first full First-Class match, having debuted as a replacement player. For the Aces, after being inserted, Dusan Hakaraia at seven had provided the only notable resistance, his unbeaten, run-a-ball, maiden First-Class century achieved on debut and propping up the Aces' total of 240.

The Knights have taken the maximum bonus points available with both bat and ball and have a much-needed full-pointer now in their sights.

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