Knights take maximum points in win over Aces

Northern Knights vaulted from fourth to second after their Plunket Shield cricket season took on new momentum today.

They outplayed Auckland by nine wickets in a fifth-round match which lasted all of three of the scheduled four days.

Northern performed the last rites in the third session after tea at Auckland's Colin Maiden Park when they ran down the 176 runs required for maximum points in only 40.2 overs as opener Brad Wilson nailed shut Auckland's coffin with a classy, unbeaten century, his fifth on the first-class stage.

Auckland, last summer's champions who have earned just two points from five outings to sit bottom of the standings, never truly recovered after being rolled for 136 on the first day and once their second innings expired at 253 after lunch today, there was only going to be one result.

Wilson ensured the Northern players had smiles on their faces as he made 100 not out, with 17 boundaries off 125 balls, as he and Daniel Flynn put on an unbroken 136-run stand for the second wicket.

Former test batsman Flynn was fluent also, striking his unbeaten 68 off just 84 deliveries and hitting nine four and two sixes.

Earlier, Auckland resumed this morning at 125 for three but immediately lost overnight batsman Andrew de Boorder for 54 and only Colin de Grandhomme, with 56 in almost two hours, offered much resistance as the well manned Northern seam attack went about their work.

Graeme Aldridge, Trent Boult and international Brent Arnel all collected three wickets, with Arnel the standout with three for 30 off 17.3 overs.

Day 2: Martin drags Aces back into the match

Bruce Martin could not have written a better script himself as the veteran left-arm spinner dragged Auckland Aces back into their Plunket Shield four-day cricket match against the Northern Knights at Auckland with a seven-wicket haul on the second day.

The hosts were in all sorts of bother at the start of play with Northern resuming on 113 for two in response to Auckland's meagre first dig of 136, but Martin spun a web around his former teammates on the Colin Maiden Park surface to ensure they only added another 100 runs to their overnight tally.

Auckland had reached 125 for three at stumps, a lead of 48 runs with seven second innings wickets in hand. Andrew de Boorder is unbeaten on 54 while captain Gareth Hopkins will resume with him tomorrow on four.

Martin struck in the first over today, removing opener Brad Wilson for his overnight score of 56 and setting the tone for the day.

The Marshall brothers, Hamish and James, took the score through to 169, but when Daryl Tuffey removed the former for 57 Martin eased into his work to run through the middle to lower order as Northern lost their last seven wickets for 44 runs.

Martin, who played 89 first-class matches and took 220 wickets over 11 seasons for Northern before trekking up State Highway One at the start of this season, ended the innings with seven for 97 from 36 overs, the 30-year-old's 14th five-wicket bag in first-class cricket.

Day 1: Knights on top after day one

Northern Knights have made the perfect start in their quest to make up ground on runaway Plunket Shield four-day cricket leaders Central Stags.

Northern Knights, third on the ladder and 16 points behind Central Stags after four of 10 rounds, almost claimed first innings points on the first day of their fifth round match against Auckland at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland, such was their dominance over the hosts.

They went to stumps at 113 for two, trailing by just 23 runs after bundling Auckland out for 136 midway through the post-lunch session.

Left-armer Trent Boult was the chief destroyer.

He bowled well without great success against Central Districts in Whangarei last week but today he reaped the rewards with five for 35 from 14 overs, career-best figures and the 21-year-old's third five-wicket haul in 13 first-class matches.

New Zealand test bowler Brent Arnel was also in the wickets with three for 36 from 15.4 overs, while wicketkeeper Peter McGlashan had a productive day behind the stumps with six catches.

Auckland were close to recovering from a terrible start when they reached 80 for four just before lunch, but they lost four wickets for eight runs either side of the major interval as Boult and Arnel wreaked havoc.

Colin de Grandhomme top scored with 28 while Andrew de Boorder added 26 for Auckland, who went into the match propping up the Plunket Shield ladder and did nothing today to improve their status.

Opener Brad Wilson will resume tomorrow on 56 with former New Zealand international Hamish Marshall, who is playing his first match of the summer for Northern Districts, unbeaten on 18.

Meanwhile, no play was possible on the first day of the match between Central Districts and Otago at McLean Park in Napier because of rain.

The hosts won the toss and inserted Otago but that was where the action ended. Play is scheduled to start 30 minutes early at 10am for the next three days in an attempt to make up time.

The other fifth round match, between Wellington and Canterbury at Wellington, was postponed after Tuesday's deadly Christchurch earthquake.

- NZPA

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