Standard Bank Cup, 2003-04 February 14, 2004

Gauteng win as rain wrecks havoc

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Floodlight failure and rain in Benoni interrupted the clash between Easterns and Border, while showers also caused delays at Centurion where Free State faced Northerns. Both games were abandoned.

Gauteng, meanwhile, won their match at a canter, and were in position to claim second spot from Northerns, as well as a home semi-final if they beat Border on Sunday. Western Province finished top of the table, while Easterns took fourth spot. The semi-finals will be played in Cape Town (Western Province v Easterns), and either Johannesburg or Centurion (Northerns v Gauteng) on February 20.

Points Table

Free State 202 for 8 (Venter 55) and Northerns 64 for 1 - no result

Free State, propping up the lower end of the table, won the toss and batted first on a SuperSport Park pitch that did not live up to its usual standard. On a wicket that was slower and lower than expected, the Free State top order adapted well, scoring 100 runs in 20 overs. But they lost their way after that, and could only manage 202 for 8 at the end of 45 overs.

Kosie Venter, playing his 100th limited overs game, made a solid 55 and was set to bat through the innings when a silly run-out cost him his wicket. It also exposed the lower order to some fine final-overs bowling by Alfonso Thomas and Reon King.

Rain delayed the start of the Northerns innings. The delay reduced the target to 164 in 31 overs, which Northerns went for in earnest. But then, at 64 for 1 after eight overs, the clouds burst again and the game was abandoned.

Border 180 for 6 (Kreusch 65, Sugden 71*) v Easterns 1 for 0 - no result

Border, needing a win to keep their hopes alive, made a good start to their innings with Justin Kreusch, who scored 65, leading from the front. He built a 66-run partnership with Craig Sugden, which allowed Border to maintain a run-rate of close to five an over.

Two rain delays, after 24.2 and 36.4 overs, and a floodlight failure, after 35.3 overs, meant an over reduction and the end of the Border innings at 180 for 6 after 36.4 overs. Easterns' target was amended to 200 in 35 overs, but after three overs the rain came down, forcing the umpires to abandon the match.

Gauteng 208 for 5 (Ackerman 86*, Cook 77, Tweedie 3-58) beat KwaZulu-Natal 150 (Crookes 5-37) by 58 runs

Gauteng needed a win to ensure a place in the top four, and Stephen Cook (77) and HD Ackerman (86) took a huge step in that direction when they put on 112 to set Natal a target of 209 on a difficult pitch.

Natal's response came in stutters. They were in trouble almost from the start, losing wickets in a rush as the run rate mounted. Eventually, they went down without a fight.

Derek Crookes, formerly of Natal, was by far the best bowler on display, taking a career-best 5 for 37, his final four wickets coming in eight balls.