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Ken Borland


WP call into service 2 bright talents to secure strong advantage

Posted on February 29, 2024 by Ken

Daniel Smith & Gavin Kaplan forged the key partnership for Western Province on the second day of the CSA 4-Day Series final against the Central Gauteng Lions at the Wanderers.

Western Province called into service the talents of two of their brighter prospects on Thursday as they claimed a strong advantage after the first innings of the CSA 4-Day Series final against the Central Gauteng Lions at the Wanderers.

With 26-year-old Gavin Kaplan and 21-year-old Daniel Smith both scoring 60, Western Province made 312 all out, to lead by 87 runs, and by stumps on the second day they had already reduced the Lions to 10 for two in their second innings.

Having sent the Lions crashing to 35 for five and eventually dismissing them for 225 on the first day, Western Province resumed on Thursday on 49 without loss. And even though they lost the wicket of Eddie Moore, the previous evening’s aggressor falling to Tshepo Moreki’s short-ball assault for 45, the first hour certainly belonged to the visitors as they reached 118 for one.

But the Lions fought back valiantly, with Moreki adding the wickets of Proteas batsmen Tony de Zorzi (51) and Kyle Verreynne (14) as WP slipped to 158 for four shortly after lunch.

That brought Kaplan, playing just his 10th Division I innings, and Smith, in his 14th game at this level, together with WP still 67 behind. Crucially, the home team dropped both of them early in their innings.

Kaplan was missed in the gully, a sharpish chance, by Josh Richards off Codi Yusuf on 10, and Smith was on three when he edged Moreki to wicketkeeper Ryan Rickelton, who had the ball in both gloves but it somehow squirmed out.

Kaplan and Smith proceeded to add 87 for the fifth wicket, putting WP in front. Kaplan was full of defiance, but plenty of fine strokes as well, as his 60 came off 122 balls and included 10 fours. The left-hander Smith showed his potential as he also batted with great determination, his 60 coming off 117 deliveries, with eight fours. When he was dismissed, trapped lbw after missing a peculiar little paddle-pull at left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, Western Province already led by 61.

Crucially, the Lions used spinners Fortuin and part-time offie Dominic Hendricks to claim three important wickets just before they called on the second new ball – Smith and Mihlali Mpongwana (28) falling to Fortuin and Hendricks trapping Kyle Simmonds (7) lbw for just his second first-class wicket.

Moreki then made it a memorable day for himself as he claimed the last two wickets with just 11 runs added to register his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket. For someone who already has a hat-trick in the book and is a Test cricketer, it was a surprising career-best. But five for 65 in 18.3 overs was a just reward for finding the right length on this excellent Wanderers pitch, getting the ball to skid through and sometimes bounce well, with a bit of movement, from just back of a length.

Having fought back well, the last half-an-hour of the second day was immensely frustrating for the Lions.

Within the space of four balls, Hendricks (6) edged a wild drive far outside off-stump, Smith taking a good catch at first slip off Mthiwekhaya Nabe, and Josh Richards (2) then no doubt bemused his coaching staff by batting on off-stump but then stepping outside off and trying to play an away-swinger from Dane Paterson, presenting an easy catch to wicketkeeper Verreynne.

With the WP bowlers now rampant, Zubayr Hamza and Moreki had to survive a torrid few overs before stumps, which they managed while adding just two singles to the total.

The Lions will have to rediscover their roar with the bat in a big way on the third day if they are to stop Western Province from continuing their triumphant march through this season.

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