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Ken Borland

Van Buuren could have been an émigré like his cousin, but instead he was the Lions’ saviour

Posted on April 08, 2022 by Ken

Mitchell van Buuren could have followed in the footsteps of his older cousin Graeme and become an émigré to the United Kingdom, but the 24-year-old batsman has decided to stick it out in South Africa and on Friday he was the saviour of the Central Gauteng Lions side in their crucial final round 4-Day Domestic Series fixture against the Northerns Titans in Centurion.

The Lions, frontrunners in the four-day competition for so long, are trying to hold off strong late challenges from Northerns as well as the Eastern Province Warriors, and they were in early trouble at SuperSport Park as they slumped to 79/4.

That was when Van Buuren came to the crease and he showed impressive discipline and composure even as the Lions slid further into the mire on 118/6. Sisanda Magala then joined him and the burly Proteas white-ball player was able to show his value with the bat as he fought hard for nearly two-and-a-half hours, playing some lovely strokes in his 61 and adding a vital 130 for the seventh wicket with Van Buuren.

With off-spinner Simon Harmer (31-7-84-3) wrapping up the tail, the Lions were bowled out for 270 on the stroke of stumps, with Van Buuren finishing unbeaten on a highly-responsible 103, which included 10 fours and three sixes.

Seamer Aya Gqamane was the pick of the Northerns bowlers, taking 3/45 in 16 overs, his victims being the star trio of Josh Richards (33), Ryan Rickelton (24) and Magala. Lizaad Williams was also slippery, taking 2/42 in 22 overs.

The Warriors, meanwhile, were in firm control of their match against the Free State Knights in Bloemfontein until the hosts were lifted to a tolerable 198/7 by a marvellous 107 not out by Patrick Botha.

The EP pacemen, Tiaan van Vuuren (14-4-32-3), Akhona Mnyaka (12-1-49-2) and Mthiwekhaya Nabe (11-1-35-2) quickly ripped through the Knights top-order, with only Raynard van Tonder (34) showing much resistance.

Coming in at 39/4, Botha shared successive partnerships of 54 with Van Tonder and 72 with Migael Pretorious (17). It lifted the mood in a Knights camp that is missing several key players and has been further rocked by the resignation of Allan Donald as coach. The Proteas great is taking up a role as bowling coach of Bangladesh.

Scores in brief for other games

Western Province 332/4 (Jonathan Bird 128, Yaseen Vallie 44, Gavin Kaplan 73, Daniel Smith 46*; Delano Potgieter 2/56) v North-West.

KZN Dolphins 272/5 (Grant Roelofsen 49, Keegan Petersen 115*, Andile Phehlukwayo 69*; Shaun von Berg 3/81) v Boland Rocks.

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