You tend to expect half tons from the likes of Black Caps batting maestro Ross Taylor and seasoned wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver, never mind what phase it is of a first-class cricket campaign.

But how should you perceive the contribution of two blokes, Willem Ludick and Christian Leopard, who arrived at the crease on day one of the season-opening Plunket Shield match as lower middle-order batsmen to frustrate the hell out of the opposition bowlers in Nelson today.

"It was pretty special to see them go about it," said Black Caps white-ball strike bowler Seth Rance of the one-cap-old batsmen who dug their toes in at the Saxton Oval crease, after Canterbury Kings skipper Cole McConchie won the toss and chose to bowl.

But, then again, you also expect that from the former New Zealand and South Africa representatives to the ICC Under-19 World Cup.

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No 7 Ludick, of Nelson, and No 8 Leopard, of Napier, forged an innings-defining partnership as the Stags got to stumps at 301-7 against the Kings in 96 overs.

The defending champions are without the services of batsmen William Young, Tom Bruce and George Worker, as well as bowlers Ajaz Patel and Blair Tickner away on New Zealand A duties with CD coach Heinrich Malan in the United Arab Emirates.

Ludick, who is unbeaten on 80 runs from 163 balls, including eight boundaries and a six, occupied the crease for 235 minutes to show the game is in a good place with the unhealthy diet of twenty20, fast-food cricket. He will resume tomorrow with No 9 Ryan McCone who is six not out.

Innovate Electrical Limited Napier Technical Old Boys premier men's club representative Leopard scored 52 runs from 100 deliveries, including four fours and two sixes, in the 115-minute occupation.

The newbies, especially the South African-born homeboy, treated every ball as an event, mindful it's not how many balls you play but the ones you leave that will ultimately test the resolve of gung-ho bowlers on a fresh wicket.

Leopard brought up his 50 from 92 balls, including four boundaries and two sixes.
Ludick patiently followed with his half ton from 130 balls with a boundary off new-ball merchant Will Williams before touching gloves with Leopard.

The top order of new red-ball Central Districts captain Greg Hay, Ben Smith and Bradley Schmulian came and went cheaply before No 4 Taylor and No 5 Cleaver stopped the rot with 75 (89 balls) and 56 (119), respectively.

CD Stags batsman Ross Taylor shows his class against Canterbury at Saxton Oval, Nelson, today. Photo/Photosport
CD Stags batsman Ross Taylor shows his class against Canterbury at Saxton Oval, Nelson, today. Photo/Photosport

Rance said Taylor showed his world class to take them into a good position at lunch with three down before the young pair called the tune.

"They've got a great chance to put the pressure on those two, Tom Bruce and Will Young, so they've certainly done that by putting their hands up to try to cement those positions," he said, adding batsmen wouldn't be able to return to walk back into their positions.

Rance said CD were hoping to bowl first but the coin didn't roll their way.

Asked what a good total would be, the seamer said it was tough considering some rain was forecast.

"If there's no rain we'll be looking to score 400 plus because we still have batters to come," said Rance who comes in next with rookie Felix Murray at No 11.

Canterbury bowler Matt Henry, coming off a bumper English county season, apparently tried to show he was equally adept at claiming scalps regardless of whether he had a Duke or a Kookaburra in his mitts, as he too the prized scalp of Taylor who had wondered how the seamer would fare in the New Zealand conditions of the 2018-19 summer.

Henry also ended the more than 100-run partnership of Ludick and Leopard, with the latter departing in the first ball of the over after the former got his 50.

No 6 Doug Bracewell registered a duck, as Hay had, with Henry trapping him leg before wicket on the 12th delivery the fellow Black Caps allrounder had faced.

Henry was the pick of the bowlers with 4-87 from 26 overs, including four maidens although Williams was a shade behind a wicket-less Theo van Woerkom in the frugality stakes with 2-58 from 24 overs, including eight maidens.

With the new ball taken at 250-6 and Henry back in the attack, Ludick and Leopard didn't flinch as stumps beckoned.

Wicketkeeper Cameron Fletcher snaffled catches from Hay, Smith and Schmulian.
Manawatu seamer Navin Patel (CD) and Fraser Sheat (Canterbury) were named 12th men.

A disappointed Dane Cleaver departs but not after helping lay a platform with a half ton. Photo/Photosport
A disappointed Dane Cleaver departs but not after helping lay a platform with a half ton. Photo/Photosport