Majestic Smith carries WP to SBC final clash with the Dolphins
Graeme Smith fashioned an unbeaten century at Newlands to set up Western Province's 89-run victory over North West at Newlands on Friday night and win them a place in this year's Standard Bank Cup final where they will meet the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins, victors by 16 runs against Eastern Province at Kingsmead.
Smith, who turned 21 on Friday, celebrated his coming-of-age with 117 not out to lift WP to 229 for four in their 45 overs. Following his seven half-centuries in the competition, his latest innings ensured that he has enjoyed the third best season as a batsman in the history of the competition with 713 runs to date.
In next Saturday's final at Kingsmead he has the chance to surpass the 785 in 1997/98 and the 766 in 1996/97 both scored by Mike Rindel. His outstanding form must surely also have attracted the attention of the national selectors, especially with Australia arriving for seven One-Day Internationals and three Test matches later this month.
With Smith in command and Lloyd Ferreira adding 46, the six North West bowlers managed only one wicket between them, the remaining three wickets falling to run outs. And in reply the Dragons never got going, eventually being bowled out for 140 in under 40 overs as Roger Telemachus, Jonathan Trott, Claude Henderson and Smith picked up two wickets apiece.
At Kingsmead, Ross Veenstra had a wonderful all-round match, coming in late in the Dolphins innings to hammer 30 off 24 balls and lift the total to 223 for seven before claiming five for 24 as the EP Jumbos were bowled out for 207.
There were also contributions from Ahmed Amla (47) and Jon Kent (52) as the Dolphins built a platform, albeit a little slowly, before Veenstra and Errol Stewart (20 off 12 balls) provided a late flourish.
Skipper Robin Peterson (48) and James Bryant (50) put on 100 for the second wicket to keep EP in the hunt, but once Peterson and Bryant had gone in quick succession, Veenstra and the Dolphins swept through the remainder of the batting, the last nine wickets falling in 16 overs and one ball.