March 9, 2001

Easterns' final hopes dealt another blow

Grant Shimmin - MWP

North West dealt another blow to Easterns' fading hopes of reaching this month's Supersport Series final when they carved out a potentially match-winning lead of 230 on Friday.

Some lusty hitting by North West's stocky wicket-keeper, Ezra Poole, who cracked 28 off his last 32 deliveries to move to a maiden first-class 50 before he was last man out, prolonged the agony for the home side, who had watched a series of medium-range partnerships mount up.

By the close, Easterns were three without loss in their second innings with a mountain to climb to avoid defeat, let alone fashion an unlikely victory.

Things looked reasonably bright in the morning session when Easterns had Morne Strydom (37) and Craig Light (25) back in the hut with 37 added to North West's overnight tally of 117 for three. But the chances of them keeping the deficit to something they could conceivably have gone past with several wickets in hand, in order to set the visitors a target, disappeared as contributions down the order saw the visitors pull away.

Alfonso Thomas took his season's tally to 455, just 47 short of the record runs in a season for North West, with his 32, while Andrew Lawson returned after a crack on the elbow to add 39 to the 25 he'd made on Thursday. Mark Lavine made 26 and number 10 Garth Roe 24 as North West not only tallied an impressive score, but also prevented Easterns getting a fourth bowling bonus point.

On Saturday, the final will be the furthest thing from Easterns' minds as they set out intent on survival.