Ricochet News

Eastern Province so close yet so far in T20 Africa Cup

By Marc Jacobson - Sep 8, 2017
Eastern Province so close yet so far in T20 Africa Cup

A ‘miss became as good as a mile’ for Eastern Province in the T20 Africa Cup at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom last weekend, when they were a mere ball away from progressing to the semi-finals after a tight Pool B tussle.

EP, as current Africa T20 champions, headed into the tournament as one of the possible favourites, and had reaffirmed this on Friday, when they set themselves for a fine six-wicket win over Gauteng, helped greatly by opener David White’s stellar 85 not out, in their chase of 141 for victory.

Then having a similar task on their hands on Saturday when they were charged to chase 144 for victory against North West, EP this time-round showed an early slump, losing their first three wickets in the first two overs.

Thereafter, EP struggled to gain any real momentum, as the side progressively collapsed to be bundled out for just 102 – losing by 40 runs, which had affirmation to dent their net run-rate (NRR) in a tightly contested pool.

As Sunday broke out at Senwes Park, all four sides had each won one and lost one game apiece, and it was decisively up to that last day to action out the Pool B topper.

The men from Port Elizabeth started off proceedings on Sunday against Northerns, and having to set out in the field at first, immediately raised the bar with spinner Brad Dolley and pacer Anrich Nortje varying the attack to topple the Pretorians.

They excellently took three wickets each, and backed up by good bowling from Sisanda Magala and Solo Nqweni, the EP collective managed to out-take Northerns for just 98.

With the bowlers doing the job, EP were then chasing for a comfortable bonus-point win, in attempts to bolster their NRR, and it was looking good when White once again scored sternly with fellow opener captain Edward Moore, as the two partnered a 92-run opening stand. White scored 50 not out and Moore 36.

A lapse of concentration cost EP their next two wickets, but the Port Elizabethans fled home and won by seven wickets in the 15th over, to achieve the much-needed bonus point.

The win bettered their NRR drastically, but their failure on Saturday and their inability to get a winning bonus point on Friday, counted against them in their top-spot chase as the final match was due to course out the Pool B winners.

EP were at the time, sitting on nine points, while both North West and Gauteng, who were set to play in the last game, were sitting on five points each, meaning a bonus point for either side would surpass them over the Eastern Capers.

Restricting North West to 128/6, Gauteng were to chase 129 for glory, but a successful bonus-point chase was in their foresight, and in order for them to have had to achieve this, they would need to get the target before the 16th-over mark.

As that mark neared closer and closer, a nail-biting finish was on the cards, not between Gauteng and North West, but between Gauteng and EP’s top-spot finish.

On that 16th over, Gauteng needed 12 runs for victory and their bonus-point claim, and deemed as taxing ask, they got the over started with a bang, when Yassar Cook smashed a six, and suddenly EP were sweating.

Scoring a single off every ball for the rest of the over, Gauteng then achieved their winning target on the very last ball of the 16th over, to win with a bonus-point by a whisker, just knocking EP short from progressing.

If, for instance, Gauteng won without a bonus point, they would have tied nine points-all with EP, but EP would have progressed due to them having beaten Gauteng when the two sides played each other one-on-one, so the mere bonus point proved extremely telling.

Pool C will be in action at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley this weekend, between Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Kenya and Free State.

EP batsman of the weekend in Pool B- David White. Scoring a total 135 runs in three T20 innings’, with an average of 135.00, being unbeaten in two of those spells.

EP bowler of the weekend in Pool B- both Brad Dolley and Anrich Nortje are worth this feat and although Nortje has the better average of 7.2, he did not bowl in Friday’s game. Dolley, after having bowled in all three innings, achieved an average of 8.67, taking six wickets for 52 runs. Nortje took five wickets for 36 runs.

Image: Brad Dolley, who is also an educator at Westering High School in Port Elizabeth, in bowling action for EP last weekend.