March 17, 2001

Boland face huge target on final day


Easterns just about squeezed the life out of a tired Boland side on day three of this Supersport Series Super Eight encounter in Paarl, finishing the day well on top and within sight of an emphatic victory.

Set what would appear to be a decidedly academic target of 450 to win, Boland were 71-3 at the close, although their two batting stars - Justin Ontong and captain Louis Koen - are yet to come to the crease. Quite what they will be able to do on Sunday to stave off defeat is hard to guess.

This was a day completely dominated by the visitors, although not without happy memories for one Boland player. Willem du Toit had never taken a first-class wicket coming into this game but how he put that right. The right-arm seamer worked like a packhorse, slogging through 32 overs and returning wonderful figures of 7-82. Each time he struck, he made little secret of how much it meant to him, and his weary body will welcome a few hours in the horizontal position.

Du Toit apart, Boland's bowlers struggled to force the initiative. Koen used no less than nine bowlers as the game drifted further and further from his grasp and the sun continued to beat down on Boland Park. There can be very few grounds in the world where a day in the field is such a test of stamina; mental and physical.

Not that it seemed to have had too much affect on Boland openers James Henderson and Andrew Cyster. The pair came out full of positive intent and had taken the score along to 58 without loss before Cyster misjudged one from spinner Anthony Botha which turned through the gate to bowl him for 21.

If only to emphasise their superiority, Botha snapped up two more wickets before the close, Henderson caught behind off the faintest of edges after a well-compiled 38 and nightwatchman Manfred de Kock caught by the alert Derek Brand at bat-pad. Sunday should be a formality.