January 14, 2001

Rain thwarts Natal's bid for first victory of season

Telford Vice - MWP

Rain left Natal 63 runs shy of what would have been their first win in a first-class match this season.

Instead, the match was drawn as Natal's progress was halted at 198 for four in search of a target of 261 with 36 overs still to be bowled.

The home side earned their shot at victory by efficiently wrapping up Griqualand West's second innings for 222 after they had resumed on 167 for five. Griquas scored 279 in their first innings, to which Natal replied with 241.

That meant Griquas' last five wickets, which tumbled in 17.1 overs, were worth just 55 runs. As has been the trend throughout this match, batting errors rather than penetrative bowling caused most of those wickets to fall.

The last of them belonged to 20-year-old number seven Johan Louw, who converted his overnight 14 into a solid 50, his maiden first-class half-century in only his second match.

The visitors' most stubborn partnership on the final day was mounted by Louw and Zahir Abraham, who added 49 for the eighth wicket.

Natal's run chase was entertainingly sparked by Ahmed Amla, who went after Griquas' mediocre bowling with gusto to score 69 off 115 balls with ten fours before being trapped in front by medium pacer Louw ten overs from the enforced close.

The elegant Amla rode his luck and was dropped three times, each time off the bowling of off-spinner Martyn Gidley and twice by the bowler himself.

Amla's dismissal ended a fourth-wicket stand of 55 shared with his captain, Dale Benkenstein, who took over the aggressor's role impressively to finish with 42 struck off 53 balls, including two fours and three sixes.

Griquas were hampered by the absence of fast bowler Wayne Kidwell, who required four stitches after splitting the webbing between his thumb and forefinger while fielding.