Ball dominated bat on the first day of Northern Districts' Plunket Shield match with Otago, as 15 wickets fell in Hamilton to leave play evenly poised at stumps.

The two teams combined for just 275 runs on a day that saw both sides' batsmen struggle to assert themselves on a testing pitch at Seddon Park.

The defending champions could manage only 204 in their first innings as Otago's bowlers earned the maximum four bowling bonus points, but the visitors' batsmen fared no better and ended the day on 71-5.

Volts captain Derek de Boorder won the toss and elected to bowl, a decision which soon paid dividends. The Knights were inactive in the first round of matches, and the rust appeared to show when Brad Wilson nicked one behind from the bowling of Jacob Duffy to fall for 10.


Fellow opener Joseph Yovich soon followed, with Ian Butler inducing an edge to reduce the home side to 55-2. Little did the Knights know, the second-wicket partnership of 37 was the best they would muster as Yovich's dismissal triggered a collapse which saw five wickets fall for 47 runs.

Indian-born Ish Sodhi top scored for ND on his debut, with the 20-year-old coming in at No 8 and falling just short of his half-century when he was the last man out for 48.

Butler was the best of the bowlers, picking up four wickets, while de Boorder snagged six catches behind the stumps to fall two short of his own provincial record.

In reply, Otago lost their first wicket in just the third over when Brent Arnel removed Aaron Redmond for a duck. Arnel then proceeded to run through the Volts, first-round victors over Canterbury, striking three more times in the final session to reduce them to 42-5.

It appeared as though the home side were set for a big first-innings lead but Jimmy Neesham joined de Boorder at the crease and struck a quick-fire 27 to see his side through to stumps on 71-5, leaving the match in the balance heading into tomorrow's second day.

Meanwhile, rain in Napier meant only 50 overs of play were possible in the day's other game between Central Districts and Auckland.

After Aces captain Gareth Hopkins won the toss and sent in the hosts at Nelson Park, ex-Auckland batsman Jeet Raval and Jamie How made a decent start before former Stags quick Mitchell McClenaghan snuck one through Raval's defences with the score on 51.

How was the next man to go, bowled by Colin Munro for 33, then New Zealand seamer Chris Martin removed first-round centurion Matt Sinclair for 22.

The heavens opened midway through the middle session and the rain remained for the rest of the day, leaving Central stranded on 130-3 with Carl Cachopa (38no) and Kieran Noema-Barnett (4no) the unbeaten batsmen.