How do you analyse a day when 20 wickets tumble, two new-ball bowlers claim the most wickets but also go on to top score for their teams as lower-order batsmen?

Perhaps it's because the wicket was doing too much on day one of the final round of the Plunket Shield match between the Central Districts Stags and the Northern Districts Knights at Nelson Park, Napier.

One can surmise that if the top-order batsmen predominantly exchanged cellphone numbers in eking out runs then it's only fair to question their application with the bat and respect for the quality of balls the seam merchants were delivering.

Yet another inference is that maybe the wicket demanded little batting knowledge and more use of the sixth sense in playing a shot and that's why non-specialist batsmen prospered - although in no way is this an implication that lower-order batsmen are rabbits in first-class cricket.

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The upshot is that CD skipper William Young won the toss and chose to bowl, skittling the visitors for 134 runs in 43.4 overs - undeniably a poor total even in a limited-overs affair.

In reply, the Stags were back in the pavilion without reaching three figures - a paltry 99 runs in 32.5 overs.

Seth Rance was the chief destroyer for the shield-seeking Stags, claiming a career-best 26-6 from 11 overs, including three maidens, in an innings, eclipsing his 31-6. It was the Black Cap seamer's fifth five-wicket bag.

The 30-year-old fire officer from Wairarapa scored 33 runs at No 9, including four boundaries and a lusty six.

Scott Kuggeleijn, who has played two ODIs for his country, emulated Rance's feat when he claimed 48-7 from 13.5 overs, including four maidens, to eclipse his previous best figures of 60-6. It was the 26-year-old fast bowler's seventh five-wicket haul.

Kuggeleijn was unbeaten on 48 runs at No 8 as ND's top scorer.

ND Knights applaud new-ball bowler Scott Kuggeleijn after his seven-wicket haul. Photo/Margot Butcher, Photosport
ND Knights applaud new-ball bowler Scott Kuggeleijn after his seven-wicket haul. Photo/Margot Butcher, Photosport

While the Knights are out of the two-horse shield race they were instrumental in the dismantling of the other contenders, second-placed Wellington Firebirds, in the previous round.

Rance said when they scrutinised the wicket in the morning they didn't think it was worth 20 wickets in a day.

"However, we bowled reasonably well in the morning but then didn't apply ourselves well enough with the bat because to be bowled out for 99 is pretty disappointing," he lamented.

The game was now evenly poised on a strip that had grass and moisture in it.

But Rance felt it was the swing that had caught the batsmen on the hop, without taking away the prowess of the bowlers.

"They [batsmen] all played their shots when they shouldn't have. I don't think they respected the bowlers well enough.

"That's disappointing because we're a better team than one that was bowled out for 99 on that wicket so I think they'll take a hard look at themselves."

Asked to explain how he and Kuggeleijn found traction with ball and bat, he said they came in at a time when their sides needed it so it was quite nice to contribute.

"I tend to play my shots naturally and I move a little bit on the crease so it's a little bit different and Kuggeleijn played his shots as well.

"As a tail-ender that sort of worked for us but as a top-order batsman, I think, the weay to go is to respect the ball a little bit more and leave the ball on its merits.

"It is extremely pleasing for the team and for me individually and, hopefully, something I can reflect on at the end of the game and the season," he said.

Rance said the main focus was on another big innings to skittle the Knights, who stopped play 1.2 overs into their second dig due to poor light with Henry Cooper not out on one run and captain/opener Daniel Flynn yet to score.

"We need to turn up with a good attitude and bowl like we did this morning and we'll bowl them out, I believe, again tomorrow.

"We've just got to back ourselves with confidence with what what we do and it'll hold us in good stead because we have a good bowling line up."

Scott Kuggeleijn returns an Adam Milne delivery back to sender at Nelson Park, Napier, yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Scott Kuggeleijn returns an Adam Milne delivery back to sender at Nelson Park, Napier, yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor

Adam Mile took 47-3 and Doug Bracewell 27-1.

ND only used three bowlers with Brent Arnel taking 23-2 and James Baker 25-1 amid any suggestions they will be lacking impetus with leg spinner Ish Sodhi playing for the Black Caps against England in Christchurch.

Rance felt skittling the Knights around 200 to 250 would make it a good chase on the last two days on what should mutate into a good batting track.

"We'll work out a strategy in the morning on how to bowl them out with a lead of no more than 300 because if we can do that then we'll be in a good position to win the game," he said as CD aim to collect their first accolades this summer after bowing out in the grand final of both white-ball formats.