In a hard-fought first day of the 111th annual three-day North vs South match in Argentina, the South probably claimed an overall edge as they snared two late wickets to leave North 35 for 2 overnight, after earlier declaring on 303 for 9.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, it certainly did not look like it would be a good day for South as they slumped to 40 for 4 in the morning session, but a determined fight-back in the afternoon set up what promises to be an intriguing second day.
It was a day of two outstanding individual marathon efforts. For the South, Matias Paterlini held the innings together, batting for 255 minutes and 240 balls for his resolute 81, an innings which included 9 fours. For North, Australian off-spinner Michael Quinn sent down an impressive 37 overs, to end with figures of 4 for 81. With the wicket taking spin from the first morning, he will probably add to those overs in the South second innings.
Quinn's early introduction rocked the South batting as he took the first four wickets to fall, and at 40 for 4, it looked likely to be North's day. However Paterlini held firm, and in partnership with the experienced Grant Dugmore, steered South some way out of trouble by adding 89 runs together for the fifth wicket in 35 overs. Dugmore eventually departed, making 61 off 98 balls in 150 minutes, with 5 fours, and at 129 for 5, the coast was not yet clear for South.
However, the lower middle order and tail held firm, and having gone to lunch at 87 for 4, the afternoon definitely belonged to South.
Bernardo Irigoyen hit an attractive 51, off 68 balls in 78 minutes, with 7 fours, and Diego Lord adding an unbeaten 20, the South were able to declare on 303 for 9, a total that seemed unimaginable in the morning, and with 40 minutes remaining in the day to bowl at the North top-order. South grabbed two valuable scalps, including the threatening Conway Young for 23, via a stunning catch at short-leg by Lucas Paterlini, and at stumps North were 35 for 2 after 12 overs.
Day two promises to be as absorbing as day one, with the morning session especially perhaps holding the key to the future course of the match. North will be looking to key batters Gary Savage and the Ferguson brothers, Paul and Alejandro, to bat them into a strong position, while South will in all likelihood rely on many overs of off-spin from skipper Billy MacDermott and young talent Agustin Husain to turn the game further in their favour.