Thomas takes Easterns apart with six for 26
Medium-pacer Alfonso Thomas, who has made his name as an obdurate lower-order batsman in his first season with North West - he has a century and an unbeaten 95 to his credit already - destroyed the Easterns batting line-up with a career-best six for 26 as they were shot out for 106 in Benoni on Thursday.
By the close, the visitors had piled on the agony by moving to 117 for three, with Morne Strydom on 21 and Craig Light on eight. North West opener Andrew Lawson had to leave the field when he was struck on the elbow by Albie Morkel with his score on 25.
Easterns' failure to get a batting bonus point put a big dent in their aspirations of reaching the Supersport Series final, with an away match against Boland, their rivals with Border for a spot in the showpiece match of the South African first-class season against Western Province, completing their programme next weekend.
Thomas was introduced to the attack in the 16th over and struck with the sixth ball of his spell, having Aldo van den Berg caught at first slip by Riaan Niewoudt for 16. By lunch, the home side were 74 for five from 32 overs, with Thomas sitting pretty on five for 15 from 12 overs, the wickets of Dylan Jennings, Mike Rindel, Andre Seymore and Derek Crookes added to the bag.
He also grabbed the final wicket to fall, having last man in Brendan Reddy caught at gully for four to wrap up a disappointing Easterns innings. After lunch, they crawled through 33.3 overs, adding just 32 runs in that time. Ant Botha, who remained unbeaten at the end of the innings, faced 108 balls and was at the crease for 148 minutes in scoring 14, only one of which came off his first 62 deliveries.
For North West, opener Niewoudt got the reply off to a cracking start, with a rapid 44 off 49 balls, including seven fours and a six off Kenny Benjamin in the first over.