The final day of the opening Plunket Shield match between the Wellington Firebirds and Otago Volts hasn’t been able to separate the two teams, with both having to settle for a draw.
Derek de Boorder (95) and Mark Craig (80) helped the Volts add an extra 231 runs to their overnight total before declaring at 369 for eight, giving them a hefty 500 run advantage.
For the Firebirds it was mission impossible, but they batted sensibly and lost just three wickets in the 34 overs that the Volts threw at them in hope of a collapse.
Michael Papps anchored the innings with an unbeaten 62 and alongside his captain James Franklin (8*) saw the match to the end, with the Firebirds finishing 125 for three.
Earlier, the Volts had made absolutely sure that the Firebirds couldn’t chase a victory, batting well into the day and setting a mammoth target.
Sam Wells (53) notched up a half-century early on in the day, before de Boorder took over the reins and guided the Volts to an untouchable total. He missed out on his third First Class century by five runs when he was stumped by Luke Ronchi off the bowling of Luke Woodcock.
Mark Craig came in and whacked an entertaining 80 from 92 balls, before the Volts made their declaration nine runs after his dismissal.
Mark Gillespie, Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock all finished with two wickets apiece in the second innings, with Patel picking up respectable match figures of six for 209 on a pitch which favoured batsmen.
The Volts will take away five first-innings points from the game, while the Firebirds claimed four.
The Northern Knights and Auckland Aces begin their Plunket Shield seasons tomorrow when they meet at Seddon Park.
Day three: Wellington takes gamble with declaration
Despite a bold declaration from the Wellington Firebirds, it looks as if their opening Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts is destined to end in a draw.
Chasing Otago’s first-innings total of 534 for nine declared, the Firebirds returned to the crease today still 317 runs behind at 217 for two. Stephen Murdoch contributed 96, while Michael Pollard brought up his second First-Class century with 124 not out to lift his side to 203 for six, before declaring to try and force a result out of the game.
In the remaining 43 overs of the day they reduced the Volts to 138 for four and currently trail by 269 runs.
Earlier, Murdoch had carried his form on from day two and looked destined for a ton until guiding it to Aaron Redmond off the bowling of Blair Soper just four runs short.
His denial though didn’t stop the Firebirds from continuing to cut into Otago’s lead with Pollard leading the charge and finding good support from Luke Woodcock (40) and Luke Ronchi (34*).
After a lengthy 290 minutes at the crease, Pollard was finally rewarded with a century, his knock coming off 229 balls. It was an innings which made sure the Volts didn’t run away with the match.
Eyeing up an outright win, Firebirds captain James Franklin declared straight after his team reached 400. His brave approach saw some success, but probably not enough to draw a result out of the final day tomorrow.
First-innings centurions Aaron Redmond, Michael Bracewell and Jesse Ryder were all dismissed relatively cheaply before stumps, as well as Neil Broom. Sam Wells (42*) remains at the crease for the Volts, alongside his captain Derek de Boorder (6*).
A draw looms on day four tomorrow, unless the Volts deicide to make things interesting with an early declaration.
Day two: Batsmen dominate in Wellington
Day two of the opening Plunket Shield match between the Wellington Firebirds and Otago Volts has seen runs galore at Hawkins Basin Reserve, with Jesse Ryder smashing 117 in his debut match for the Volts.
Centuries yesterday from Aaron Redmond (154) and Michael Bracewell (107) saw the Volts finish day one at 358 for three and gave their side a great opportunity to build an imposing first-innings total. Ryder willingly obliged, playing masterfully to bring up his 14th First-Class century and help his side to 534 for nine declared.
Thus far the Firebirds top-order looks up for the challenge though, with Michael Papps (79) and Stephen Murdoch (84*) leading the home side to 217 for two, leaving the team’s deficit at 317 runs.
Earlier, Ryder and Sam Wells were four runs away from a hundred run partnership for the fourth wicket, before the latter was dismissed by Jeetan Patel. Ryder though remained resolute and after 151 balls and 210 minutes at the crease, brought up a memorable ton.
After a seven month period which has included suffering life-threatening injuries after being assaulted, serving a six month ban for unwillingly using a prohibited product and changing provinces, Ryder thanked all the people who had helped him through a difficult time.
“It's awesome to score my first hundred for the Volts. Everyone in Otago Cricket has made me feel extremely welcome since I signed to play here, so it's great to repay their faith in me," the 29-year-old says.
"I've had some amazing support over the past seven months from those close to me, and from people all over the country. That support was the first thing I thought about when I got to 100 today."
"This is just a start for me and the rest of the team. To win championships we need to play well every week and I want to keep contributing for VJ and my new teammates who I'm loving playing with."
Patel (4-124), Andy McKay (3-114) and Luke Woodcock (2-33) helped reduce the Volts to nine down, before captain Derek de Boorder made the visitors declaration.
In reply Blair Soper made an early breakthrough for the Volts, bowling Josh Brodie for seven. But with their side under immense pressure, Papps and Murdoch gave the Firebirds a glimmer of hope with a 99 run second wicket partnership.
With 12 overs left in the day, Wells knocked over the stumps of Papps to bring Michael Pollard (38*) to the crease. He and Murdoch continued through until stumps and will return tomorrow to continue to try eat into the Volts lead.
Day one: Volts off to flying start
The Otago Volts have got their Plunket Shield campaign off to a flying start, reaching 358 for three against the Wellington Firebirds at the Hawkins Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Day one of the competition featured centuries from Aaron Redmond and Michael Bracewell, as well as an impressive showing from new Volt’s player Jesse Ryder, who was squaring off against his former team.
A career high knock of 154 gave Redmond his 14th First-Class ton, bringing up triple figures off 176 balls. His innings helped make up one half of a 217 run second wicket partnership with Bracewell, who claimed his second First-Class ton off 150 balls.
Having been put into bat by the hosts, the Volts put themselves in charge early on with Redmond and Neil Broom (32) putting on 68 for the first wicket, until the latter was trapped lbw by Andy McKay.
Unfortunately for the Firebirds, it wouldn’t be until after the tea-break that they would celebrate another wicket.
Redmond and Bracewell showed the right balance between patience and aggression and saw their side through to 248 for one at the end of the second session.
Their onslaught eventually ended in the 74th over when Bracewell was bowled by Jeetan Patel for 107. His 216 minute stint at the crease was highlighted by 16 fours and a six, but more importantly had helped put his side in full command of the match.
His departure saw the introduction of Ryder, who was making his debut for the Volts having shifted from the Firebirds at the end of last season. The 29 year-old looked in good touch, making an unbeaten 48 and bringing up his 5000th First-Class run in the process.
Soon after surpassing 150 Redmond was dismissed by McKay, ending an innings which was highlighted by a whopping 24 fours and three maximums.
Sam Wells joined Ryder at the wicket and together they saw out the rest of the day to make sure the southerners started day two in the box seat.
It was a tough day in the field for the Firebirds, with Mackay (2-79) and Patel (1-70) the only two bowlers to taste success.
Day two starts tomorrow at 10:30am.