March 15, 2001

Mpitsang helps skittle Eastern Province

Marcus Prior - MWP

Victor Mpitsang claimed his second five wicket haul of the season as Free State skittled Eastern Province for just 180 on day one of this Supersport Series Super Eight match at Goodyear Park on Thursday.

Neither side can reach the final this year, but Mpitsang made the most of the opportunity to showcase the skills which earned him a place in the national squad two years ago.

On a pitch which offered plenty of lateral movement, Eastern Province looked to have done well in reaching 48 without loss as Carl Bradfield (35) and Umar Abrahams (13) batted watchfully. But the importance of winning the toss was underlined as Mpitsang got his foot in the door and then kicked it wide open.

Abrahams, James Bryant (0) and Dave Callaghan (0) were all dismissed within two Mpitsang overs, to leave EP reeling at 48/3. As Herman Bakkes - recalled to the Free State side in place of Dewald Pretorius who has a hamstring twinge - offered good support at the other end, Free State ran through the middle order.

Their task was made easier when Bradfield was forced to retire hurt on 33 when he received a clanging blow to the box. Although he tried to soldier on, the pain was quite clearly too much and he had to leave the field for treatment. Insult was added to injury when he could add only two more runs when he returned to the crease at the fall of Mark Benfield.

Free State will be annoyed that they allowed Meyrick Pringle to add 25 breezy runs towards the end - a score of 150 or less was probably all EP deserved. Pringle, keen to protect Mornantau Hayward at the other end, blasted three fours and a huge six off an Mpitsang no-ball.

Two wickets before the close as Free State took their turn at the crease will help EP sleep a touch better, but Kosie Venter has been in fine form recently and he is still there, ominously poised to unleash on 19.