Luke Ronchi's late runs leave Firebirds Plunket Shield match v Volts evenly placed
The Wellington Firebirds' Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts is evenly placed after the first day.
It was slow going for most of the 89 overs, as the run rate rarely threatened three-per-over, but fifties from Michael Pollard (50) and Luke Ronchi (83) helped the Firebirds through to 279-8.
Left-arm paceman Bradley Scott was the best Volts bowler with 4-43.
Rain delayed play by an hour at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday, but the match started with sporadic sunshine breaking through the clouds as the rain stayed away for the most part.
Wellington lost the toss and were sent in on a moist and slightly green pitch that no-one wanted to bat first on.
Openers Michael Papps (32) and Luke Woodcock (39) both rode their luck in the opening session - Woodcock sent an edge between the keeper and first slip and both almost dragged deliveries onto their own stumps.
But they battled hard - Papps scored just six runs off his first 38 balls - before Woodcock started playing well down the ground and Papps peppered the square boundaries off the back foot once he had his eye in to help bring up the pair's first 50-run stand of the competition..
Most of the Otago bowlers kept it tight and got their reward late in the first session, as the home side went from 61-0 half an hour before lunch to 67-3 19 balls later.
Scott threatened with almost every ball and was unlucky not to have a wicket early on bowling downwind.
But that all changed when he switched ends and the ball started hooping around for him.
He got one to swing back sharply on Papps, wrapping the Firebirds skipper on the pads as he shouldered arms. He got the out-of-sorts Craig Cachopa in identical fashion in his next over for one.
They were inexplicable dismissals, more so for Cachopa as he had seen the swing which caught Papps out.
In the meantime, Stephen Murdoch had also gone for a duck, leaving Woodcock and Michael Pollard to plough on through tough times after lunch.
Five overs passed with only one run scored - the next over Woodcock was gone, strangled down the leg side with a faint edge off Scott.
Pollard was set by then and took up the attack, driving well on his way to his half century off 95 balls, as his partnership with Tom Blundell (31) also passed 50.
But he was gone three balls later, lbw to a full ball from spinner Rhys Phillips that looked a shade leg side but saw the umpire's finger raised.
Blundell and Ronchi made it through to tea and then on to very late in the day with a 92-run stand, with the latter striking with withering ferocity in the final session, hitting 12 fours, to take himself past 50 and his side past 200.
Unfortunately Blundell was bowled by Scott after the new ball was taken, with 30 minutes left in the day, before Jeetan Patel was caught behind with 10 minutes left in the day.
Meanwhile, Bharat Popli's unbeaten 104 saw Northern Districts through to 323-7 at the end of day one of their match against competition leaders Auckland at the Eden Park Outer Oval.
Rain interrupted Canterbury's match against Central Districts, but eventually Canterbury got through to 208-8 off 66 overs.