March 2, 2001

Abrahams hits career-best to put Jumbos in charge

Marcus Prior - MWP

Eastern Province Jumbos moved into a position of authority in this Supersport Series Super Eight match on Friday as they took an 82-run lead over Boland with two first innings wickets in hand.

That they got anywhere need such a healthy lead was due in large part to the efforts of off-spinner Shafiek Abrahams, who used his bat on this occasion to strike a career-best undefeated 80 and help the visitors to their total of 318/8 at stumps.

Abrahams' innings was in stark contrast to much of what had gone before as he pasted the Boland attack to all parts of the ground in a rare - for this game at least - display of aggression. He turned an average Eastern Province effort into a decent one on a pitch which will offer him and his spin partner, Robin Peterson, plenty of help when Boland finally get to bat again.

The EP tenacity down the order amounted to a major frustration for Boland, who went into the match lying in second place on the log and very much in with a shout of a place in the final.

Although Justin Ontong bowled well, picking up three wickets at the top of the card with a clever mix of off and leg-spinners, the remainder of the Boland attack looked jaded - as well they might be in temperatures that once again soared beyond the merely uncomfortable. It is on days like these when the professionals really earn their money, although 26 no-balls might just have had one or two of the guilty players coughing some of it back up in the dressing room afterwards.

Abrahams will have a good chance of moving to his maiden first-class hundred on Saturday morning - all the more so because Mornantau Hayward (18), so short of form and confidence with the ball, has played sensibly at the other end without ever looking in any great trouble.