A much improved second innings batting performance from Northern Districts – including 83 from Kane Williamson - has taken them through to a comfortable win over Otago in their Plunket Shield season opener at Bay Oval.
Resuming their chase for 204 to win today on 52/1, they lost just one wicket – that of Williamson himself – in reaching the target, to take the victory by eight wickets.
The celebrated ND lineup, featuring six Blackcaps shortly to depart for a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, took their time to move up through the gears in the game but finally won it in some style.
After running through Otago by lunch on the first day for a modest first innings total of 108 they then found themselves on the receiving end in reaching just 136, and that only because of a belligerent personal best first class innings of 61 from Trent Boult batting at 10.
They began flexing their muscles yesterday in holding the visitors to 231 in their second knock, and then moved the standard of the game up another level with some quality batting to reach the target with well over a day to spare.
Captain Daniel Flynn, one of six Bay of Plenty residents in the Northern Districts team, fell early in the chase, but fellow opener Henry Cooper stayed with Williamson for a 139 run partnership which sealed the outcome.
After the Blackcaps skipper's demise, caught in the deep by Jacob Duffy off the bowling of Michael Rippon in attempting to add a second six to his tally, Cooper and Dean Brownlie eased through to the target, finishing not out on 66 and 30 respectively.
ND now travel to Christchurch to take on Canterbury in their second Plunket Shield encounter, and are expected to have a reduced but still significant contingent of Blackcaps players available for selection. That includes Tim Southee who would have made a seventh international in the team at the Bay Oval but sat out the game to rest a knee irritation.