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Ken Borland


Koekemoer determined but Lions strike telling blows late in the day

Posted on December 20, 2023 by Ken

Tian Koekemoer watchful in defence

A grimly determined Tian Koekemoer batted through most of the opening day of the CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match for the KZN Inland Tuskers against the Central Gauteng Lions at the Wanderers on Wednesday, before the home side landed some telling blows late in the day to be the happier of the two teams at stumps.

Having won the toss and elected to bat first, KZN Inland closed on 252 for six, but they were 208 for three going into the final hour.

But a fired up Duanne Olivier, operating with the second new ball, had Kagiso Rapulana (24) caught splicing a hook to square-leg, and in his next over, he had Koekemoer caught behind for 90.

You could tell the left-handed Koekemoer, who had produced more than six hours of defiance, was unsettled by the fast bowler switching from over the wicket to around and then back to over again in quick succession, and the 29-year-old just sparred at a delivery that was angled across him and was caught behind. It was a fine innings though by the former Eastern Province player, who faced 265 balls and hit 10 compact boundaries.

With Tshepo Moreki then having Thamsanqa Khumalo caught behind for a duck, the pressure was all on the Tuskers in the closing overs, but Cameron Shekleton (15*) and Malcolm Nofal (11*) collected a couple of boundaries each as they took the visitors to stumps without further loss.

Koekemoer honed his game as part of the highly successful Pretoria University side under Pierre de Bruyn, playing alongside Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Lungi Ngidi and Theunis de Bruyn. He joined forces on Wednesday with a man from Kimberley who came through the Free State Schools system – Michael Erlank.

The St Andrew’s Bloemfontein product scored a century against North-West in nearby Potchefstroom previously this season, and Erlank looked bound for three figures again as he batted with great tenacity, but with lovely drives through the covers and shots off his legs too, to reach 79. So when he slapped a short-and-wide delivery from Malusi Siboto straight to backward point, he would have tore his hair out if he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

The Lions started well with the ball, reducing the Tuskers to 22 for two in the first hour of play.

Josh Richards should have had the acclamation of a large Wanderers crowd ringing in his ears when he dived full-length in the gully to snap up Yaseen Valli (1) off Olivier’s second over of the day.

Ben Compton (9) then misread the aerodynamics of Moreki’s second delivery of the match and was trapped lbw.

Moreki finished the day with two for 64 in 18 overs, but the pick of the Lions attack was Olivier, who ran in like the wind and claimed three for 39 in 19 tight overs that included seven maidens.

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