/ 11 November 2007

Dolphins seem poised for the kill

With one day left in their SuperSport Series match at Buffalo Park in East London against the Warriors, the Dolphins were poised for the kill at the close of play on Saturday evening.

The KwaZulu-Natal side had their collective foot on the throat of the home side as the Warriors at 215 for four still trailed by 44 runs in their second innings to match the visitors’ first-innings total of 462.

However, standing between them and victory is skipper Zander de Bruyn with 118 not out. While he was still at the crease on a benign Buffalo Park wicket, the Dolphins would have their work cut out to wrap up the innings.

When play began on Saturday morning, the visitors were a formidable 208 runs ahead with two wickets standing and the home side were hoping to limit the damage by dismissing the tail-enders cheaply. It didn’t work out that way as Johann Louw (60 not out) and England professional Liam Plunkett (four not out) took their scores to 76 and 32 respectively with last man in Daryn Smit contributing 10 before the Dolphins were all out for 462, an addition of another 55 valuable runs.

The Warriors, facing a deficit of 259, needed a sound start but found themselves in trouble at 53 for two before HD Ackerman joined De Bruyn, and these two forged a vital partnership of 123 before Louw induced Ackerman to flash outside the off stump to be caught behind by Smit for 46.

The elegant left-hander Arno Jacobs joined De Bruyn, but after facing 20 balls met the same fate as Ackerman for a duck, giving Louw a match haul of nine wickets so far.

Davey Jacobs then joined De Bruyn who had survived a caught and bowled chance off Louw after he had reached his century, and this pair will take the fight to the Dolphins when play resumes on Sunday morning with De Bruyn and Jacobs (15 not out) at the crease.

Louw has so far claimed three of the wickets to fall for 27 runs and Plunkett the other.

Heading for a draw

The sun came out in Paarl at last and shone slightly more on the Cape Cobras than on the visiting Lions. By close of play on the third day of their SuperSport Series match the Cape Cobras led by 137 runs with seven wickets in hand, but with just one day remaining it may be difficult for either side to force a result.

Charl Langeveldt got off to a good start as he dismissed Neil McKenzie with the fourth ball of the day. However, there was to be little success for a while.

Justin Ontong relished his return to his former home ground with a delightful knock of 59 (92 balls, nine fours) in a partnership of 79 with Alviro Petersen. The opener was somewhat subdued, going to lunch on 98 after adding just 32 to his overnight score.

After the break, the Lions edged towards the first-innings lead. However, Petersen went soon after completing his ninth first-class century. He was the fifth man out after batting for 345 minutes (246 balls, 11 fours, one six). This prompted skipper Justin Kemp to take the second new ball, and his decision triggered a spectacular collapse. The last six wickets fell for just 17 runs, and in fact the last four fell with the total on 260, leaving the hosts with a narrow lead of 34 runs.

Monde Zondeki was magnificent with the new ball, having a spell of four for eight in five overs. Claude Henderson put up stoic resistance before being last man out for a duck despite facing 25 balls.

The start to the Cobras’ second innings was anything but dull. Andrew Puttick struck two boundaries in Friedel de Wet’s opening over. Steven Harmison started with a no-ball, but trapped Gerhardus Strydom in front with his first legitimate delivery. Characteristically, he included a wide before completing the over.

Puttick and Henry Davids consolidated with a partnership of 86 for the second wicket. Harmison returned to make the breakthrough again. Puttick’s resistance ended on 45, scored off 91 balls (seven fours).

Tyron Henderson was promoted in the order but did not last long, leaving the Cobras on 98 for three. JP Duminy and Davids saw them through to the close. Davids was closing in on his second half-century of the match, having already spent just short of three hours at the crease for his unbeaten 43 (118 balls, four fours).

Eagles hold the aces

In Benoni, the Titans and the Diamond Eagles’ SuperSport match, being played at Willowmoore Park, appeared to be heading for a draw. However, a flurry of wickets saw the pendulum tilt slightly in favour of the men from the Free State.

After bowling out their visitors for 450, the Titans set about reducing the deficit of 235, and when the players had used up their allocation of 96 overs for the day, the home side — from being 164 for two — were placed on 209 for four.

Gulam Bodi on 14 and Roelof van der Merwe on two are the men who be hoping to take the Titans into the black and set a competitive target when play resumes.

Despite batting having become easier on yet another glorious day, the Titans lost the wicket of Heino Kuhn in the third over of the innings. The opener misread a Dillon du Preez delivery and nicked it to the wicketkeeper — cricketer of the year Morne van Wyk.

Maurice Aronstam and Faf du Plessis set about an effective rescue operation with a second-wicket partnership of 158, before Du Plessis fell in an identical fashion to Kuhn. Aronstam and another cricketer of the year, Gulam Bodi, further instigated the recovery, until Aronstam lofted Du Preez delivery to Boeta Dippenaar in the covers.

Pierre du Bruyn came and went to the same combination, without troubling the scorers.

Du Preez now has 21 scalps to his name in this year’s series, and Dippenaar 13 catches. Needless to say both top their respective categories.

Earlier, Pieter Koortzen and CJ de Villiers, who had resumed on their overnight scores of 123 and 49, respectively added a further 19 runs before Pierre Joubert spread-eagled the latter’s stumps.

However, the 21-year-old who hails from Kroonstad and only made his debut in the 2006/7 season cracked his first half-century, with 40 of those runs coming via the boundary.

Koortzen was, at times, imperious, so the manner of his dismissal, therefore, after a sojourn that lasted 376 minutes and 253-balls, was all the more surprising.

Facing left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe, needing seven runs to surpass his previous best first-class score of 164, slapped the spinner to fine leg and set off on a run, which was not on, and Du Bruyn threw down the stumps to end the innings.

Prior to that, the Titans attack had toiled long and hard under a hot sun for scant reward, with the second, sixth, seventh, eighth and 10th wickets all providing significant contributions.

Joubert fared the best of the home sides with five for 74 and Ethy Mbhalati weighed in with three for 93. — Sapa