Johannesburg — A thumping win for the Warriors of Gqeberha, coupled with a defeat following an overly generous declaration by the Central Gauteng Lions in Durban, has seen the Four-Day Domestic series suddenly get very interesting.
It’s a tricky season for all the teams, managing changing schedules which change because of the pandemic and thus maintaining form can be difficult. The Lions and Warriors deserve some credit for winning four out of their five matches, but the Gauteng outfit may regret their charitable decision at Kingsmead that left the door open for the Dolphins - and by extension the Warriors too.
What was a 17 point lead atop Division One, when the tournament went into recess because of the pandemic last December, was reduced to less than two points at the weekend, with the Lions eight wicket defeat in Durban, coupled with the Warriors 168-run triumph at St. Goerges Park against Boland.
The Lions had dominated the opening exchanges with KZN, thanks to centuries from Joshua Richards and Reeza Hendricks. It meant they could declare their first innings on 428/5.
With their potent seam bowling attack missing Duanne Olivier and Sisanda Magala due to national call-ups, the Lions needed 116 overs to dismiss the Dolphins the first time around. That no doubt took a bit of puff out of the bowlers, and should have factored into the thinking of Dominic Hendricks in choosing when to declare. The Lions’ argument of course will be that they want to encourage positive cricket - and in some way that spirit of adventure deserves praise - but it cost them dearly however.
“We didn't expect them to leave us that little to chase in the last innings because it was a good wicket to bat on," Dolphins captain Marques Ackerman said.
"There wasn't much on offer for our bowlers but they did manage to keep us in the game and when they declared we were really excited and knew that we didn't have anything to lose.
Ackerman led that chase superbly scoring 139 not out off only 121 balls as the Dolphins scored 260/2 in 47.4 overs. He shared partnerships of 110 runs for the second wicket with Grant Roelofson and 146 for the third with Khaya Zondo, to help the Dolphins pick up their first win in this season’s competition.
That opened the door for the Warriors who, having conceded a 14-run deficit on the first innings against Boland, then set them a target of 343 thanks to a second innings century from Wihan Lubbe.
Dane Paterson, back at the venue where he made his Test debut two years ago, then blew Boland away in picking up 7/25.
The Titans were the other team to take advantage of the Lions’ slip up, beating the North West Dragons by eight wickets thanks to Heinrich Klassen’s booming bat. Having missed out on selection for the limited overs series against India, Klaasen scored 128 and 71 not out. After Simon Harmer’s 5/20 in the Dragons first innings saw them make just 147, Lizaad Williams removed the top order in the second innings and despite a battling 119 from former Titans player, Heino Kuhn, a fourth innings target of 133 was insufficient.
Rain impacted the other match in Division One with Western Province and Free State unable to get in any play on the last two days in Bloemfontein.
Northern Cape were the only team to win in Division Two, comfortably beating Easterns by 253 runs in Benoni
Batter of the Round: It hasn’t been an easy year and a bit for Heinrich Klaasen, who went from battling a bad bout of Covid last year to suddenly captaining the national T20 side - which was missing a number of experienced players including captain Temba Bavuma against Pakistan. He may not see it that way, but a stint out of the national spotlight might do him some good, and he used the opportunity in Potchefstroom brilliantly. Klaasen scored 128 out of 246 in the Titans’ first innings and then backed that up with an unbeaten 71 to seal a very good win for them.
Bowler of the round:
There were six wickets in the match for Lizaad Williams and a first innings ‘five-for’ from Simon Harmer for the Titans in Potch. In Gqeberha, Shaun von Berg claimed six wickets for Boland in the Warriors’ first innings. However with the match on the line, Dane Paterson, delivered as a senior pro should for the home team, claiming 7/25 and in the context of competition, helped earn his side a critical victory.