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March 2, 2006
Albie Morkel produced a striking all round display as Easterns twice fought back from tricky situations to finish the opening day against Free State in a strong position. Morkel's first intervention was to take four wickets as Free State slipped from 150 for 3 to 179 all out. Morkel top and tailed the innings while David Wiese and Jonathan van der Berg chipped in with three apiece. Jonathan Beukes was the mainstay of Free State's innings with 63 off 75 balls. In reply Easterns also had problems, falling to 44 for 4. However, Morkel then showed the other half of his game, forming an unbeaten stand of 118 with Wiese who also showed his all round ability.
Western Province are in a promising position after restricting Border to 129 for 9 at East London. Quinton Friend was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 65 off 19 overs as Border failed to muster any partnerships of note. Their situation could have been worse if it hadn't been for a ninth-wicket stand of 42 between Lundi Mbane and Mfuneko Ngam which at least carried Border into three figures after they were 87 for 8. Western Province didn't have it all their own way with the bat, but Alistair Gray's 45, which was ended with the final ball of the day, means they will aim for a substantial lead.
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