Ontong earns competitive position for Boland
A superb stand of 144 for the fourth wicket between two of South Africa's most talented young batsmen helped Boland into a competitive position in their Supersport Series Super Eights match against Eastern Province at Boland Park in Paarl on Saturday.
By stumps on day three, Boland had moved to 278 for six - a lead of 186 - the loss of nightwatchman Con de Lange to what turned out to be the last ball of the day putting a dampener on an otherwise extremely positive day for the men from the Winelands.
The innings was held together by Justin Ontong - still there at the close on 81 - and Jonathan Trott, who was trapped leg-before by Murray Creed for 65. Neither player has yet recorded a first-class century although both quite clearly have the ability to reach the landmark in the very near future.
Ontong's promise has already been recognised with a call-up to the South African one-day squad for the tour to the West Indies and it's quite possible that Sunday could be his day. He has had one piece of good fortune, Umar Abrahams dropping a routine chance at fine-leg off the bowling of the luckless Garnett Kruger.
Although he continued to struggle with no-balls, Mornantau Hayward was aggressive and penetrative and picked up three top-order wickets. Hayward was ordered out of the attack in the Boland first innings after running on the wicket one too many times.
The stand between Ontong and Trott was all the more praiseworthy as it began with Boland leading by just ten runs with three important wickets down. The EP lead of 92 was due largely to the efforts of Shafiek Abrahams down the order, the spinner out early on resumption for a career-best 85 as Boland wrapped up the innings for 328.