March 2, 2001

Border take giant stride in bid to reach final

Marcus Prior - MWP

If Border claim a place in the final of the Supersport Series, then Friday in Bloemfontein might just be the day they gave themselves the chance.

By stumps they had moved into a sizeable 162-run lead with eight second innings wickets in hand, after bowling their opponents Free State out for just 225.

The Free State total was dominated by the efforts of Andrew Gait, the opener's 112 his highest score in first-class cricket and just his second hundred. It could have ended so much earlier though, as the young batsman appeared to be the recipient of a healthy dose of good fortune when on just 24.

It was then that he aimed a pull shot at Tyron Henderson and he - and just about everyone else - turned to see the ball climbing high into the sky. It was only when the ball landed safely that 'keeper Ian Mitchell indicated that the wicket had been broken. Surely Gait had to go, hit wicket?

But doubt there was, and instead of Gait lengthening his stride back to the pavilion, he took up guard once more with the blessing of the umpires. Quite what Border made of it all was less clear. Certainly in the days of television replays, Gait might not have been so lucky.

What would have improved the Border spirits was the clatter of Free State wickets, eight of them for just 13 runs, as the home side stumbled from 109-2 to 122-6 shortly after lunch. Despite the efforts of Gait and Rashied Lewis, 225 still represented a serious deficit.

That much was rammed home by some fine batting from Craig Sugden as he helped the Bears into what should be an impregnable position by the close.