Late declaration ensures draw

A late declaration by the Otago Volts cost both them and the Northern Knights any chance of forcing an outright result in their opening round Plunket Shield cricket match at Queenstown today.

The match stuttered to a draw with the teams agreeing to pull stumps at tea on the fourth and final day after the Volts had earlier set the visitors a mammoth target of 365 in 72 overs, at a required rate of more than five runs an over.

The Knights picked up two points for their first innings win, while the hosts left the Queenstown Events Centre empty-handed but probably satisfied after steering down the barrel of a hefty defeat early yesterday.

New Zealand one-day batsman Neil Broom provided the day's highlight, progressing from his overnight score of 134 to register his maiden first-class double century.

He finished on 203 not out, an innings which included 22 fours and a six and eclipsed his 196 against the Central Stags last season as his best score at first-class level.

The Volts went from 309 for seven overnight through to 438 for eight declared, but their stingy declaration left the Knights with next to no chance of victory and stumps were pulled at tea with the visitors 142 for two.

Openers Brad Wilson (56) and Daniel Flynn (50) had time to notch half centuries.

Last season's leading wicket-taker, Graeme Aldridge, made a bold start to the season, with match figures of nine for 132 for the Knights.

Day 3: Brooms rescue Volts

The Broom brothers have swept the Otago Volts off the canvas and given the home team a fighting chance heading into the fourth and final day of their Plunket Shield cricket match against the Northern Knights at Queenstown.

The Volts, who started the day at 4 for two and still trailing by 70 runs, slumped further into the mire at 33 for four, but that was the cue for the Broom brothers, Darren and New Zealand one-day international Neil, to engineer a remarkable turnaround.

The pair put on 252 runs for the fifth wicket, which easily bettered the previous best fifth-wicket mark for the Volts against the Knights of 123 between Russell Hendry and Lance Pearson at Carisbrook in the 1961/62 season, though they fell eight runs short of the Volts record for any wicket against the Knights, and 14 short of the best fifth-wicket partnership for the Volts against any opposition.

Darren Broom struck 12 fours and a six in getting to 112, his second first-class century, while Neil hit 17 fours in notching his ninth triple-figure score at Plunket Shield level to end the day unbeaten on 134 as the Volts recovered to 309 for seven.

At 33 for four they looked as though they could lose inside three days, but the Volts now hold an overall lead of 235 runs and defending champions the Knights will have a tricky run chase on their hands tomorrow if the Volts can bat for another hour.

Graeme Aldridge, who took six wickets in the Volts' first innings, was again the chief wicket-taker for the Knights today, taking three for 73 from 20 overs.

Day 2: Late burst has Knights in control

Defending champions the Northern Knights struck two late, lethal blows to take a firm grip of their Plunket Shield cricket match against the Otago Volts in Queenstown today.

Leading by 74 runs on the first innings, the Knights rammed home their advantage by removing the Volts' two best batsmen in the minutes before stumps on the second day.

Captain Craig Cumming scored two and fellow-opener Aaron Redmond a first-ball duck, the departure of the two occasional New Zealand representatives leaving the hosts hobbling at four for two.

First-innings hero Graeme Aldridge and Trent Boult claimed a wicket each to build on the work of their batsmen, who compiled 375 today in response to the Volts' first innings 301 at the Queenstown Events Centre.

Paceman Neil Wagner took a highly-impressive six for 55 for the hosts but it couldn't stop the Knights rumbling to first innings honours, guided chiefly by 61 to allrounder Joseph Yovich and 60 from opener Brad Wilson.

Several others made starts, namely Daniel Flynn, 49, Jono Boult, 41, and Michael Parlane, 40, although they were guilty of not pushing on.

Wagner's figures were the best of his career, further boosting the 24-year-old left-armer's international selection prospects when he becomes eligible for New Zealand later in the year.

Day 1: Aldridge back in business for the Knights

The Northern Knights and particularly evergreen pace bowler Graeme Aldridge began where they left off last summer as the Otago Volts stuttered on the first day of their Plunket Shield cricket match today.

The competition's leading wicket-taker when the Knights stormed to last year's title, Aldridge was straight back on song at the Queenstown Events Centre, the right-arm seamer snaffling six for 45 from 18 overs.

The Volts did well to recover from an early Aldridge onslaught to reach 301.

The visitors started brightly in response. In 13 overs before stumps they raced to 60, with openers Daniel Flynn and Brad Wilson unbeaten on 32 and 23 respectively.

Volts captain Craig Cumming will have rued his decision to bat first, finding himself and three teammates back in the pavilion before the first drinks break -- the scoreboard reading 38 for four.

Aldridge, who turns 33 next week, snared all four before the completion of his seventh over, rekindling the aggressive pace and movement that marked his superb first class campaign last season.

A beneficiary was 19-year-old wicketkeeper Owen Ivins, who gloved five catches in his first class debut, four from the bowling of Aldridge.

The Volts threatened to repeat their first-innings capitulation for 88 when the teams met in the first round last season but opener Aaron Redmond avoided the early carnage to compile 42.

The real resistance came in the middle order where Derek de Boorder compiled a fine 92 and Sam Wells 70. They took advantage of some loose bowling from veteran Joseph Yovich, who conceded 57 from his five overs.

Nick Beard scored 36 of his 37 runs from boundaries late in the Volts innings.

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