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Ken Borland

Hamza & Van Buuren star as ensemble effort gives Lions pleasing lead

Posted on December 22, 2023 by Ken

Mitchell van Buuren celebrating his century for the Lions.

Tremendous centuries by Zubayr Hamza and Mitchell van Buuren, and an ensemble effort in terms of support saw the Central Gauteng Lions grab a 90-run first-innings lead over the KwaZulu-Natal Inland Tuskers on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match at the Wanderers on Friday.

Having posted an impressive 435 all out, the Lions then reduced the Tuskers to 45 for two at stumps, the visitors still trailing by 45 runs and certainly the stage is set for an exciting final day.

The Lions were in some difficulty at the start of their first innings, slipping to 43 for three before Hamza and Van Buuren provided some stability late on the second evening.

The pair of former junior provincial hockey stars resumed their partnership on 125 for three on Friday and that stand grew to considerable proportions as they went on to add 183 for the fourth wicket.

Hamza reached his third first-class century this season off 150 balls when he pounced on a quick single from a misfield at square-leg, and anyone who viewed the four-hour innings would have been thoroughly entertained as he stroked 13 stylish boundaries along the way.

He eventually fell for 101 though when he edged an attempted cut off spinner Michael Erlank to wicketkeeper Cameron Shekleton.

Having removed Hamza, the visitors then found getting rid of Van Buuren to be a whole different challenge. The promising 25-year-old marched on to 132 off 262 deliveries, batting for six hours and 20 minutes as he took the Lions into the lead.

Van Buuren scored all around the wicket, but was particularly strong square, collecting 13 fours and a six in his determined innings, which was his second century of the season.

The lower-order as a group did very well for the Lions, the last six wickets adding 209 runs.

Wandile Makwetu made 34 as he added 60 for the fifth wicket with Van Buuren, and Malusi Siboto scored 34 as he put on 75 for the seventh wicket with the centurion.

Left-arm spinner Malcolm Nofal, the most successful of the Tuskers bowlers with three for 86 in 25 overs, then took a couple of quick wickets to reduce the Lions to 396 for nine. But the visitors’ toil was not over yet as Codi Yusuf smacked 37 off 43 balls and Duanne Olivier made 19 not out as they added 39 for the last wicket, giving the Lions a pleasing lead.

Yusuf was then a successful performer with the new ball as he produced a superb delivery, bouncing and seaming away, to have Inland opener Yaseen Valli caught behind for 3.

Tshepo Moreki then struck in his first over, moving the ball sharply both ways to confuse Thamsanqa Khumalo, who was then bowled shouldering arms for 1.

The other opening batsman, Ben Compton, stood firm as he reached 27 not out at stumps.

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