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Ken Borland



Like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog as Titans set up for win while title slips away 0

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Ken

Young JP King shone with the bat for North-West.

If a tie is like kissing your sister then winning your last game but seeing your trophy hopes disappear could be like snogging a slobber-mouthed dog. The Northerns Titans maybe felt a bit like that as they set themselves up for a comfortable victory over the North-West Dragons at Centurion, but had to accept that they can no longer win the first-class competition.

The KZN Dolphins have assured themselves of the CSA 4-Day Series title and R1.5 million in prizemoney, even if they lose to the Central Gauteng Lions in Potchefstroom, because the 8.58 bonus points they gathered in the first innings push their tally to 118.04, which none of the other teams can overtake.

The Titans also face a battle for second place and the R750 000 prizemoney because if the Eastern Province Warriors bowl Western Province, currently 129 for three, out for less than 339 on Wednesday then they will pip Northerns by 0.5 of a point. There is no prizemoney for finishing third.

Northerns made heavy weather of bowling North-West out for 360 on Tuesday, letting catches slip and bowling messily. That left them with a potentially awkward target of 190 for victory, but openers Neil Brand and Modiri Litheko did a great job of lifting spirits in the home changeroom with a dashing unbeaten stand of 53 before stumps.

The Titans were probably eyeing the spoils of victory before tea when they claimed three early wickets on the third morning to reduce North-West to 90 for four, still 81 behind.

But Senuran Muthusamy and JP King took advantage of the crisis to prove their mettle. Muthusamy showed why new Test coach Shukri Conrad rates him so highly as he made a determined 62 to go with the six wickets he took in the Northerns first innings, while King, playing just his second game at Division I level, defied the Titans for four hours.

King eventually fell to the natural away-swing of Matthew Boast with the second new ball, but his 92 was a great effort, and the 10 fours and a six he struck showed he has the strokes to go with the determination.

Once Muthusamy was dismissed though, bowled by an excellent yorker from Boast, to leave North-West on 207 for five, just 36 ahead, there was a general laxity to the Titans performance. Perhaps the news had reached them that they were no longer playing for the title, but one would hope a R750 000 prize would still be motivation enough.

The Dragons tail wagged with enthusiasm in response and they added another 153 runs to give themselves a chance of winning their first four-day match this season. Duan Jansen was again an obstacle with 30 and then Juan James, the concussion substitute for Khaya Cotani, who was struck on the head first ball by Junior Dala, lashed 37 off 35 balls and put on 39 for the ninth wicket with Lwandiswa Zuma (15).

Boast was the best of the Northerns bowlers, finishing with three for 62 in 19 overs.

The Titans would have been unhappy with having let North-West come back into the match, but Brand was solid as ever at the top of the order as he reached 17 not out at stumps, while Litheko was in a rush, racing to 29 not out as he banished the memory of scoring just four runs in his last three innings.

Lions guts

The Central Gauteng Lions showed plenty of guts on Tuesday as they fought back superbly on the third day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom.

The Dolphins had been calling the tune until Tuesday as they scored 329 and then reduced the Lions to 171 for eight. But the Central Gauteng team began their fightback with some brilliant resistance with the bat, led by Malusi Siboto.

Coming to the wicket at a difficult 128 for six, Siboto was involved in important partnerships of 27 with Connor Esterhuizen (36), 16 with Lutho Sipamla (12) and 26 with Codi Yusuf (14). But at 197 for nine, the Lions still faced a deficit of 132.

But Siboto and 19-year-old Liam Alder, making his first-class debut, then added a defiant 62 for the last wicket, making the trophy-hunting Dolphins really fight for the final wicket.

Siboto ended with a marvellous 54 not out off 167 balls, while Alder eventually fell for 23 off 63 deliveries. The last pair had crucially reduced the Lions’ first-innings deficit to just 70.

The bowlers then did a great job maintaining the comeback vibe for the Lions with Siboto having both Tshepang Dithole and Keegan Petersen caught behind, and spinner Alder claiming the wicket of first-innings top-scorer Marques Ackerman for just 10 as the Dolphins slipped to 68 for four.

Khaya Zondo (65) and Jason Smith (59) then added 111 for the fifth wicket, but Evan Jones then showed some proper skills with the old ball as he ripped through the lower-order, taking five for 46 as the Dolphins crashed from 179 for four to 222 all out.

Set a target of 293 for victory, the Lions were in good condition at stumps as they reached 64 for one.

Thando Ntini drew first blood when Josh Richards was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw for just 2, but instead of venting his spleen, captain Dominic Hendricks went about setting a solid foundation with his 32 not out.

Kagiso Rapulana also looked adept at the crease as he went to 30 not out, he and Hendricks adding 49 as the Lions went to stumps on 64 for one.

Needing another 229 runs to win, the Lions have certainly impressed with the way they have stayed professional right until the final day of the season, even though they can no longer win the four-day title, the Dolphins having accrued too many bonus points in the first innings to be overtaken.

Newlands

The Eastern Province Warriors are pushing hard for second place as they set Western Province a target of 339 to win at Newlands, the home side reaching 129 for three at stumps.

Glenton Stuurman had Jonathan Bird caught behind for 5 early on, and then returned to claim the key wicket of Zubayr Hamza, bowling him for 51.

Stuurman had earlier top-scored for the Warriors with his 38 lifting them to 184 all out. Left-arm spinner George Linde was the destroyer-in-chief for Western Province, taking three for 25 in 13 overs.

Knights hammer Rocks

The final round’s other game has already been completed with the relegated Free State Knights hammering the Boland Rocks by nine wickets.

Despite a second-wicket partnership of 146 between Pieter Malan (86) and Clyde Fortuin (133), Boland were bowled out for 319 with 23-year-old slow left-armer Monde Maqunqu taking six for 82 in 26.4 overs.

Thanks to his efforts, the Knights were left needing just 39 for victory, with Pite van Biljon and Raynard van Tonder scoring those runs in half-a-dozen overs.

Titans gain big lead & bought themselves plenty of time to win 0

Posted on March 13, 2023 by Ken

Sibonelo Makhanya top-scored for Northerns Titans as they gained a formidable lead.

The Northerns Titans gained a 171-run first-innings lead and bought themselves plenty of time to win too with a positive batting display on the second day of their CSA 4-Day Series match against the North-West Dragons at Centurion on Monday.

Having bowled North-West out for just 148 on the first day of the match, Northerns resumed on 18 for one on Monday and batted at 3.91 runs-per-over to post 319 and give themselves a formidable advantage.

They had already claimed a wicket in the North-West second innings by stumps, Matthew Boast having Lesego Senokwane (4) caught in the slips, edging an expansive drive at an away-swinger. The visitors closed on 24 for one as bad light intervened, still trailing by 147 runs.

Left-handed opener Neil Brand set the tone for the Titans up front on Monday, stroking a brisk 54, but it was a fourth-wicket partnership of 89 in 19 overs between Sibonelo Makhanya and Dewald Brevis that gave Northerns control of the game.

Makhanya, given his seniority, played the more responsible role, setting up the innings with his 71 off 134 balls, including 13 fours. But Brevis really took on the North-West bowlers, hammering a dashing 56 off just 64 deliveries, with nine fours and a six.

Brevis had just gone to his maiden first-class half-century with a six, when he sold his wicket to left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy, skying an attempted slog-sweep into the covers.

Muthusamy then capitalised on some more adventurous strokeplay by the lower-order, reducing Northerns from 182 for three to 280 for nine.

Aya Gqamane then produced the most exciting batting of the day as he plundered 40 not out off just 32 deliveries, hitting seven fours and a six.

Muthusamy showed his class though as he wrapped up the innings with six for 62 in 24.4 overs.

Lions

The Central Gauteng Lions had to suck up a lot of pressure on a tough second day of their final CSA 4-Day Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom on Monday, with Lutho Sipamla leading a fine fightback with the ball.

The Dolphins began the second day well-placed on 181 for two, but lost their last eight wickets for just 148 runs to be all out for 329. Sipamla, tightening his grip on the batsmen like a python, claimed two early wickets as the visitors slipped to 197 for five.

Angling the ball into the left-handed Sarel Erwee from around the wicket and then just straightening it a touch, Sipamla had the Proteas opener caught behind for 78.

With his next delivery, Sipamla cramped Khaya Zondo, another Protea, with extra bounce just outside off-stump, leading to a catch at first slip.

Marques Ackerman (97) and Eathan Bosch (63) gave KZN some breathing space with their sixth-wicket stand of 111, before Sipamla returned to break the partnership.

The Proteas paceman surprised Ackerman with some extra bounce, having him caught behind, although the catch was such a dolly that the bowler himself was calling for it.

A full and straight delivery then trapped Prenelan Subrayen lbw and Sipamla had Daryn Dupavillon caught in the slips to finish with highly praiseworthy figures of five for 71 in 23 overs.

In reply, openers Josh Richards (47) and Dominic Hendricks (17) provided yet another solid start for the Lions, adding 55 before Thando Ntini shattered the top-order with a destructive three-wicket burst.

Mitchell van Buuren (22) and Connor Esterhuizen (36) steadied the ship as they batted for more than 20 overs in adding 46 for the fifth wicket.

Tailenders Malusi Siboto (18*) and Sipamla (12) also dug in as the Lions reached 171 for eight at stumps.

WP v EP

At Newlands, Wynberg Boys High product Siya Plaatjie demolished the Western Province lower-order, his sensational five for 19 in 11 overs sending them crashing from 195 for four to 198 all out, giving the Eastern Province Warriors a 154-run first-innings lead.

Zubayr Hamza (54) and George Linde (63) seemed to have matters under control before paceman Plaatjie ran amok.

The Warriors, having scored 352 in their first innings, were 53 for one at stumps, leading by 207.

In Paarl, Matthew Kleinveldt suffered the distress of being stranded on a career-best, great effort of 199 not out when the Free State Knights were bowled out for 493 by the Boland Rocks.

Opener Kleinveldt carried his bat with a monumental 389-ball effort, while Gihahn Cloete also played plenty of fine strokes as he struck a breezy 122 and Migael Pretorius contributed a hard-hit 56.

Leg-spinner Shaun von Berg took five for 101 in 29 overs, but could not prevent his Rocks team from conceding a massive first innings deficit of 281.

North-West innings spirals out of control v Northerns 0

Posted on March 12, 2023 by Ken

Aya Gqamane led a marvellous bowling display by the Northerns Titans

The North-West Dragons won the toss and elected to bat first in their CSA 4-Day Series match against the Northerns Titans at Centurion on Sunday, but their innings soon spiralled out of control and they were bowled out for just 148.

Northerns had reached 18 for one in reply when bad light stopped play.

Junior Dala set the ball rolling when his short ball outside off-stump saw a hooking Grant Mokoena (4) looping the ball to mid-on.

Aya Gqamane, curving the ball back into the right-handers, then trapped both Lesego Senokwane (14) and Shaylin Pillay (18) lbw, before Senuran Muthusamy (13), swivelling on a pull shot, hit the ball straight to midwicket as the Eastern Cape product finished with figures of three for 40 in 13 overs, doing most of the damage in a marvellous bowling display by the Titans.

Dala then returned to claim his second wicket, Khanya Cotani (0) edging a drive and being well-taken in the slips by Donovan Ferreira, as North-West crashed to 83 for six.

JP King (38) and Duan Jansen (37) provided some resistance with a seventh-wicket stand of 47, but the entire innings was all over in four hours, just 56.2 overs.

Apart from Gqamane and Dala, the Northerns production line of fast bowlers looks promising with both Merrick Brett (11-5-20-2) and Matthew Boast (14-4-41-1) impressing on their first-class debuts for the Titans. Left-arm spinner Neil Brand also collected two late wickets.

The Titans were only able to bat for six overs before play was prematurely ended by an approaching storm, but Brand reached 14 not out in that time. Jiveshan Pillay was with him on four not out, after the dismissal of Modiri Litheko for a duck.

He was undone by some fine bowling by Renaldo Meyer: a big inswinger the previous ball led to an unsuccessful lbw appeal, but the next delivery was perfectly pitched, Litheko came forward to defend, but a beautiful away-swinger found the edge of his bat to have him caught behind.

Lions v Dolphins

Conditions were all in the batsmen’s favour in Potchefstroom on Sunday as the KZN Dolphins amassed 181 for two against the Central Gauteng Lions in their match, before play was washed out in the afternoon.

The Lions did manage to make an early strike when the all-effort Codi Yusuf fired the ball into the blockhole and trapped Tshepang Dithole lbw for 3.

But Proteas batsmen Sarel Erwee and Keegan Petersen were determined and focused as they added 99 for the second wicket, before Malusi Siboto drew a slip catch from Petersen (58).

While Erwee ploughed on to 75 not out off 168 balls, Marques Ackerman was able to turn a slow start into 40 undefeated runs off just 47 balls, the Lions bowlers perhaps being guilty of giving the left-hander an excess of leg-side scoring opportunities.

Yusuf finished the day with one for 37 in 13 overs and Siboto had taken one for 35 in the same number of overs.

In order to have a chance of claiming the four-day title in this final round of fixtures, the Lions have to beat the Dolphins and also get 5.74 more bonus points than them.

At the moment, the Dolphins have collected 1.62 more points than the Lions.

WP v EP

In the match between the two other teams in contention for the title, the Eastern Province Warriors batsmen feasted on the Western Province attack as they piled up 347 for nine at Newlands.

An excellent top-order display laid the foundation, with the extremely talented Jordan Hermann setting the tone with 81 up front, Diego Rosier (59) and Matthew Breetzke (52) then both scored half-centuries, and Rudi Second chipped in with 48.

FS Knights v Boland

In the other match, the Free State Knights bowled the Boland Rocks out for 212 in Paarl, and had made 99 for three in reply.

The promising Michael Copeland led the way for Boland with 55, while veteran off-spinner Aubrey Swanepoel took five for 67 in 24.4 overs for the Knights.

Opener Matthew Kleinveldt was the mainstay of the Free State reply, with 50 not out.

Rickelton collecting centuries like accessories as Lions win again 0

Posted on December 14, 2022 by Ken

Ryan Rickelton is collecting centuries these days like the rich and famous buying accessories, and Wednesday’s hundred to lead the Central Gauteng Lions to victory over the North-West Dragons at the Wanderers was arguably the most dazzling of the lot.

Rickelton blazed 110 off 75 balls, a great innings in terms of quality, beautiful strokeplay and the class of a different level that oozed from each of his 12 fours and four sixes.

After a morning that called for flippers and masks rather than cricket bats and leather balls, play at the Wanderers was delayed from the scheduled 1pm start to 3.45pm and the CSA One-Day Cup match was reduced to 31 overs a side.

Considering the weather, North-West won the toss and sent the Lions in to bat, but openers Josh Richards and Rickelton were superb in getting on top of the bowlers pretty much from the outset.

They cruised to fifty at a run-a-ball and their hundred stand came off just 80 deliveries. Richards was also classy and easy on the eye as he scored 44 off 51 balls before being caught on the boundary off left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy.

That ended the first-wicket stand on 132, off just 109 balls, but Reeza Hendricks then came in and ensured there was no loss of momentum with a brisk 37 off 24 deliveries.

Rickelton went to his century, his fourth in six innings to go with a 99 in his previous visit to the crease, off just 71 balls. It was a ferocious pace, but the left-hander barely seemed to be breaking a sweat and was never anything less than elegant.

It eventually took an outstanding catch by Dwaine Pretorius, running along the long-on boundary and then diving, to dismiss Rickelton. The bowler was Eldred Hawken, the best of the Dragons attack and a former Lions player, who married excellent control with some handy variations to finish with two for 31 in his seven overs, which included two maidens.

The Lions were then 201 for two in the 25th over and would have been targeting beyond 270.

But North-West, led by Hawken, did fight back with the ball, restricting the Lions to 260 for five. Evan Jones made the other significant contribution with 29 not out off 21 balls.

Even that was way too much of an ask for the North-West batting line-up though as they were bundled out for just 127 in 22.1 overs.

Sisanda Magala, almost as prolific a matchwinner as Rickelton, was the destroyer-in-chief with outstanding figures of five for 31 in five overs. One wonders how much more they need to do to become Proteas regulars.

Magala delivered the opening wicket when he deceived the dangerous Wesley Marshall (9) and had him caught at mid-off.

Lesego Senokwane (41) and Grant Mokoena (16) then stabilised with a second-wicket stand of 53, but they scored at no better than a run-a-ball, needing to provide more acceleration if they were to keep up with the ever-ballooning asking rate.

Wiaan Mulder (6-1-39-1) and Malusi Siboto (4-0-17-2) did tidy jobs in the middle overs, as the Dragons began to lose regular wickets under the pressure.

Spinner Bjorn Fortuin (3.1-0-12-2) removed the last bit of resistance in dismissing Chris Britz (28), and Magala then ran through the tail as North-West lost their last seven wickets for 22 runs in a handful of overs.

As tight and disciplined as the Lions bowling was, they were also outstanding in the field, with Mitchell van Buuren and Richards both taking magnificent catches.

Victory by 133 runs brought with it a bonus point, allowing the Lions to overtake North-West and move into second place on the log, with a couple of games in hand.

Coach Wandile Gwavu could not have asked for much more than the superbly-polished all-round display his team produced.

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