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Ken Borland


Lions bank on services of 2nd new ball for last-ditch effort to win

Posted on November 15, 2023 by Ken

Apart from scoring a century on the third day, Wiaan Mulder also claimed the first wicket and held a smart catch in the slips as the Lions dominated against North-West at the Wanderers.

The Central Gauteng Lions will have the services of the second new ball first thing on the final morning as they mount a last-ditch effort to win their CSA 4-Day Series match against the North-West Dragons at the Wanderers on Thursday.

Having posted a formidable 504 for five declared, but also having lost the majority of the second day’s play to a wet outfield and bad light, the Lions had reduced North-West to 342 for seven at stumps on Wednesday’s third day.

The visitors are still 13 runs shy of preventing the Lions from enforcing the follow-on, which will surely be their most likely route to victory. Even a lead of 125 will force the home side to bat for some time on the final day, into the afternoon and therefore leaving them with too few overs remaining to bowl out the Dragons on a good batting pitch.

The Lions strived nobly with the ball and at 226 for six, they seemed poised to dismiss North-West well short of the follow-on mark of 355.

But there was some determined, pugnacious cricket by the visitors’ lower-order and Migael Pretorius, with a defiant 68 not out, and Duan Jansen, who is in similarly stubborn mood on 30 not out and has already played some fantastic drives down the ground, will resume battle on the final morning.

They have added a crucial 68 for the eighth wicket, and before that, Pretorius put on 48 for the seventh wicket with Senuran Muthusamy, who scored a solid 45 in two-and-a-half hours at the crease.

Having suffered some traumatic damage with the ball, the Dragons actually enjoyed a solid start to their first innings, reaching 111 for one as Grant Mokoena made 43 and Raynard van Tonder stroked a commanding 87 off 114 balls.

But Tshepo Moreki found the edges of both Mokoena and Wihan Lubbe’s bats as they tried to leave, bowling the former and having the latter smartly taken by Wiaan Mulder at second slip.

Duanne Olivier claimed the key wicket of Van Tonder, caught behind as the ball just nipped away from him, and spinner Bjorn Fortuin then made inroads.

Ruan de Swardt and Mika-eel Prince, skying a slog-sweep, were both caught-and-bowled by Fortuin, who then trapped Muthusamy lbw as he missed a sweep.

Before North-West came out to bat, Zubayr Hamza and Mulder were both able to complete their centuries for the Lions.

Given the frustrations of the second day, it seemed ages ago that Hamza came to the crease, but he was quickly into three figures for the first time since moving to Central Gauteng, having started the day on 96 with the Lions on 385 for three.

The stylish Proteas player scored an authoritative 118 off 169 deliveries, building superbly on the first-day top-order contributions of Josh Richards (82), Dominic Hendricks (64) and Ryan Rickelton (58).

Mulder finished with 121 from 131 balls, a classy innings from someone who has shown a great thirst for runs already this season.

He and Hamza enjoyed a quick thrash-about for runs on Wednesday morning, aided by Wandile Makwetu’s punishing 36 not out off just 20 balls, which included three sixes, before the declaration came an hour before lunch.

Some may argue they should have declared before they did, but then the Dragons would have already have saved the follow-on and the Lions would be needing a miracle to win.

As it stands, they need three wickets for less than 13 runs, with a brand new ball, on the final morning to give them hope.

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