Lions fall just short in run-chase
The Lions ended up an agonising nine runs short of their 98-run target at Kimberley on Sunday. They needed 14 from the final over, but Eagles bowler Dylan du Preez held his nerve to ensure that the match finished in a draw, despite the best efforts of Vaughn van Jaarsveld who smashed an unbeaten 39 from only 23 balls. Earlier the Eagles had been bundled out for 193 in their second innings - for which they owed a great debt to Morne van Wyk's 70 - bringing the possibility of a result into a match that had looked destined for a draw after two solid first innings totals. Ryan Bailey (76) hit the only half-century in an Eagles first-innings total of 357 in which eight batsmen reached 20. The Lions responded strongly, with skipper Neil McKenzie making 121 and Enoch Nkwe finishing unbeaten on 93, and further half centuries from Stephen Cook and Claude Henderson helping them to finish on 453, 96 runs ahead. Eagles captain Nicky Boje claimed 5 for 93, but his side were soon staring down the barrel of an unlikely defeat as Friedel de Wet's 6 for 57 put them on the back foot. However, thankfully for the Eagles, du Preez remained calm and the spoils were shared.
The weather was the only winner as the match between the Cobras and the Titans at Stellenbosch on Sunday was washed out. The rain came at a good time for the Titans who had slumped to 15 for 3 in their second innings chasing 293 for victory, after Charl Willoughby claimed two early wickets. A low scoring match had seen a lot of batsmen get in but struggle to push on, with only JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien passing fifty in the match. The Cobras first innings total of 284 gave them an 80-run advantage, and this looked like it would provide the platform for victory until the heavens opened.
A batsman's paradise at Durban saw a turgid draw played out between the Dolphins and the Warriors, as neither side looked like having the firepower to force a result. Zander de Bruyn scored 167, supported by 98 from the unfortunate Johan Botha and 74 from Murray Goodwin as the Warriors amassed 473 in their first innings. However, any hopes that this might set-up a victory were dashed by Doug Watson, who carried his bat for a mammoth 426-ball 209 in the Dolphins 512. Hashim Amla also scored 109 as the pair put on 187 for the sixth wicket to lift their side to safety from the unsure position 158 for 5.
SAA Provincial Challenge
Maurice Aronstam and Neetan Chouhan added a mammoth 341 for the first wicket as Northerns beat Mpumalanga by an innings and 25 runs at Pretoria. It was the fourth highest opening stand in South African first-class cricket and enabled Northerns to pile up 513 for 5 at five-an-over. Mpumalanga had crumbled for 211 and the stand between Aronstam and Chouhan raced past that on its own. Aronstam faced 220 balls and struck 17 fours while former Zimbabwe academy player Chouhan turned his maiden first-class ton into a massive 248 off 294 deliveries. The partnership is believed to be the highest opening stand in the history of the South African first-class domestic structure, and Chouhan's score is the highest in the Provincial Challenge surpassing Stephen Cook of Gauteng's unbeaten 200. Leading by 302, the Northerns attack then worked their way through Mpumalanga for a second time. Adriano dos Santos (64) and Aldo van den Berg (83) resisted with a fourth-wicket stand of 121, but Francis Nkuna removed them both on his way to a career-best 5 for 57.
SAA Provincial Cup
An unbeaten 94 from Maurice Aronstam completed a good week for Northerns against Mpumalanga as they squeezed to a three-wicket win with five balls to spare at Pretoria. Aronstam followed his 140 in the four-day game with a composed 132-ball innings to ensure his team overcame a wobble chasing 224. At 135 for 2 in the 29th over an easy result was on the cards, but Aldo van den Berg took three wickets with his offspin to spark a collapse to 187 for 7 after 41. Needing 37 from the last four overs Aronstam was well supported by Abram Ndlovu who hit 15 off nine balls. Mpumalanga had batted steadily to reach 223 for 4 with Roelof Hugo upping the tempo in the second half of the innings, striking 63 off 49 balls, but Northerns had just enough in the tank.
Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London