A five-wicket bag from 18-year old seamer Nathan Smith has put Otago on top after the first day of their Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts.

Northern Districts lead the competition on 52 points, 29 clear of the last-placed Otago side, but with 12 points on offer for a win and eight first innings bonus up for grabs, the deficit can be overturned quickly in the final five games of the domestic season.

To do so, Otago will need their batsmen to step up, after Smith took a career best 5-48 to reduce ND to 269-9 at the end of play.

Smith's scalps helped to negate ND's strong start, where they were nicely poised at 143-1.

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Makeshift opener Tim Seifert made 97 for ND, spearheading a 115 run partnership with Bharat Popli, who made 61.

The 22-year-old Seifert has impressed across all formats in his short career to date, and his name is worth keeping an eye on as a potential international wicketkeeper-batsman.

The man who currently holds the test gloves for New Zealand, BJ Watling, was also in good nick on his return from injury, and will resume tomorrow unbeaten on 38.

Elsewhere, the opening day of the match between Central Districts and Auckland was rained out due to a leak in the covers, while Canterbury's clash with Wellington begins tomorrow. ‚Äč