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Ken Borland

Lions take luck involved with tombola machine pitch out of the equation with brilliant all-round display 0

Posted on April 17, 2024 by Ken

The DP World Lions men’s team took the luck involved on a pitch that produced deliveries like a tombola machine out of the equation with a brilliant all-round display to beat the Momentum Multiply Titans by five wickets at SuperSport Park on Saturday and so ensuring that they will host the final for the four-day cup against World Sports Betting Western Province next week.

The Lions managed to chase down a testing target of 161 with relative comfort, Ryan Rickelton steering them to victory with 64 not out, an innings that married fierce determination with some fine strokeplay as the left-hander collected seven fours and a six.

Rickelton received considerable assistance from Wiaan Mulder (40), the pair adding 85 for the fourth wicket to repel a final push for victory for the Titans, who had reduced them to 32 for three with the new ball. Delano Potgieter (12*) helped the Proteas batsman add the last 43 runs required for the win.

Partnerships had also been key in the first innings, allowing the #PrideOfJozi to take a crucial 66-run lead. A brilliantly tenacious century by opener Josh Richards provided the foundation of the innings, but he had fabulous support from the middle-order.

Coming in at 51 for three, Mulder played an innings of some class in scoring 55 and adding 95 for the fourth wicket with Richards. Mitchell van Buuren then scored a wonderfully-controlled 58 and added another 83 for the fifth wicket with Richards, before Van Buuren and Potgieter (29) added another 62 for the sixth wicket. Those partnerships built such a handy lead that it did not matter that the Lions lost their last five wickets for two runs.

The DP World Lions had lost an important toss on a pitch that already showed inconsistent bounce and some pronounced movement on the first day, but their bowling attack produced two excellent displays as a unit to dismiss the Titans for just 227 and then 226.

Lutho Sipamla, playing his first Lions match this season after a back injury, made a superb comeback with four for 48 in the first innings, and Codi Yusuf made life very hard for the batsmen with four for 81 in the second. Potgieter picked up five wickets across the two innings.

But Richards was the main hero of the tremendous display by our Pride. On a pitch on which the steepling bounce of the new ball made it as dangerous as facing beamers, the 25-year-old played an innings of great courage. He spent an hour in gloomy light on the first evening fending off the express pace of Junior Dala and Corbin Bosch, then had to get himself in again on the second morning (the ball always doing more in the first session at SuperSport Park) before gradually playing with more and more fluency as he scored 107 in five-and-a-quarter hours, off 201 balls.

A beaming Richards said after the triumph that it had been the best of his 11 first-class centuries.

“It’s probably number one on the list, taking into account the attack it was against, the fact it was in essentially a semi-final, how the pitch played and how my season had gone,” Richards said.

“Obviously the ball moved around quite a bit and there was inconsistent bounce. The new ball was very difficult, it really came through. I just told myself to leave well and move as late as possible, keep batting as simple as possible.

“To get through that period on the first evening was great, I was hit on the hand and it was challenging. But I just tried to watch the ball as closely as I could. I told myself that I can’t change the conditions so I just have to deal with it.

“Credit to the guys for the very crucial partnerships in the middle there, especially on a wicket like this, those were golden.”

Richards also praised the DP World Lions bowlers for keeping the Titans batsmen on the hop.

“The bowlers had it very tough last week on a docile, flat pitch, and they had to bowl 225 overs. As a unit they’ve been exceptional and they’re the ones who keep putting us in a great position, so hats off to them.”

The beers are still on ice, however, in the Pride’s changeroom as they look forward to a massive final against Western Province at the DP World Wanderers Stadium from Wednesday, head coach Russell Domingo ensuring they keep their feet on the ground despite the memorable win at Centurion.

“We’re all very excited to be in the final, particularly after how we started this season. We’ve gone from strength to strength and we’re playing a lot better now. It was not how we wanted to start, but it’s how you finish that matters,” Richards said.

“Russell reminded us now in the changeroom though that we have not won anything yet. We will have to front up again next week, hit the ground running again from Monday, because we start afresh on zero against Western Province.”

Kolisi has key role ensuring attack & defence work together at optimum level with Sharks nearing complete game 0

Posted on January 04, 2023 by Ken

With the Sharks nearing the complete game of rugby in the second half of their United Rugby Championship match against the Glasgow Warriors last weekend, flank Siya Kolisi obviously has a key role to play in ensuring both attack and defence are working together at optimum level.

The Springbok captain was typically industrious in playing his role in a “bomb squad” that brought tremendous intensity and turned a one-point lead after 50 minutes into an overwhelming 40-12 win. Kolisi was his usual physical presence in defence at close quarters, attended plenty of rucks and also popped up on attack, providing valuable continuity and offloads.

It was the sort of all-round display that showcased his hybird loose forward abilities very well, and Kolisi feels his role in the Sharks loose trio is pretty much the same as with the Springboks.

“I think we have a similar game-plan, and our shape is definitely very similar, but we get the opportunity to run the ball a bit more at the Sharks,” Kolisi said.

“Coming off the bench, I was able to get stuck in and we played more of an offload game, which was really enjoyable for me. They also expect me to look after the breakdown and it was a fast game with a bit more ball-in-hand.

“But the Sharks are similar to the Springboks in that we also choose carefully which areas we want to play in. When we came on there was still a lot to do, and we were able to bring some energy and the physicality that is always needed.

“For me it was just exciting to be back after a week off and a week of integration, and I just wanted to try add value,” Kolisi said.

The 31-year-old also loved being on the field again with his mates like Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi and Thomas du Toit. When that bunch of Springbok giants looks around at each other, it must do wonders for their confidence to know the level of support that is around them.

“They’re all experienced guys and they stood up on the weekend. We make sure that we back each other and there’s going to be no place to hide on Saturday against Ulster, we know it’s going to be decided up front,” Kolisi said.

“Ulster have good backs too, but we know we need to stand up and set it up up front first.”

Maharaj: Proteas need to ensure such a terrible batting display does not happen again 0

Posted on November 28, 2022 by Ken

South Africa’s top-order produced a terrible batting display in the first T20 against India in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, crashing to nine for five after being sent in to bat, and top-scorer Keshav Maharaj admitted that they had been caught unawares in the powerplay and needed to look at ways of ensuring such a parlous start does not happen again.

The Proteas eventually made it to 106-8 thanks largely to Maharaj’s greatly determined 41 off 35 balls, while there were also rearguard knocks by Aiden Markram (25) and Wayne Parnell (24). But despite a shaky start they saw them reduced to 17-2 in the seventh over, India cruised to victory by eight wickets with 20 balls to spare, thanks to unbeaten half-centuries by Lokesh Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav.

“We don’t want to dwell too much on the match, but there are things we can address and hopefully rectify,” Maharaj said after the awful start to the tour. “We do need to chat about how we started.

“When you are put under pressure like that then it’s very difficult to come back. But we showed some fight and we can build on that. It showed great character to go from nine for five to 106, we made a game of it and there are a lot of positives from that.

“But we need to adjust better against the new ball, they were getting a lot of swing, so we needed a change of plan and mindset. We didn’t expect the ball to swing so much, and the pitch was also two-paced, there was a lot of tennis ball bounce, so it was not easy.

“We need to find a way to combat the swing up front and our application at the top also needs to be looked at. But the ball was swinging prodigiously and we were just trying to get to the 16th over and not get bowled out,” Maharaj said.

Losing five wickets in the powerplay was the difference between the two sides though, as Rahul dug in and Suryakumar scored an inspired 50 not out in 33 balls.

“With five wickets down in the powerplay, you’ve still got to be focused. We wanted to try and get to 16 overs and not get bowed out, and then unfortunately Wayne got out.

“Our seam bowlers also did really well in the powerplay, KG Rabada and Wayne were exceptional. Small moments went India’s way, but they batted exceptionally well.

“It was always going to be very difficult to come back from five wickets down in the powerplay, maybe it was a bit of rustiness on our part. Hopefully we can execute much better and make the second T20 more exciting.

“Conditions were in the bowlers’ favour, but full credit to Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh for landing the ball in the right areas. They had us under pressure in the powerplay,” Maharaj said.

Nkwe’s focus now on winning the World Cup 0

Posted on October 24, 2022 by Ken

Enoch Nkwe has been hard at work on Cricket South Africa’s pipelines since he began as director of cricket on July 1, but now the focus is shifting to ensuring the Proteas can win the T20 World Cup in Australia next month.

South Africa’s awful record at World Cups is not something Nkwe has shied away from, and he believes he has a plan to secure that long-awaited trophy.

“It’s been an exciting last couple of months, but we can’t hide away from the amount of work to come on our pipeline, which is our most important investment,” Nkwe said this week.

“But the focus is now on our men’s side, we want them to win the World Cup and we have to make sure their preparation gives them every chance of doing that.

“The challenge in the past has been how to confront knockout games, and we’ve been engaging with the coaches on how to overcome that. It’s actually pretty simple – when we get there we have to back ourselves.

“We need to stick to our identity and what has worked for the team, the system that’s in place. We’ve been working on different models to help the players to get through and win a World Cup,” Nkwe said.

At this stage, that does not include recruiting the services of a sports psychologist, with the Proteas rather focusing on their strengths, like their powerful bowling attack.

“We’ve spoken to the coaches and we did look into whether we need a psychologist or not, but SACA [players’ union] also plays a role in helping individuals,” Nkwe said.

“We believe in our blueprint and we speak a lot about pressure and how it’s about trusting the blueprint, whether we are coming from behind or we’re in front.

“We want to throw the first punch and then stay in control. We have impact players now like Rilee Rossouw and Tristan Stubbs who can take the game forward.

“Of course no coach or psychologist can walk on to the field and actually play, it’s up the players,” Nkwe said.

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