December 22, 2000

Runs still flowing for McKenzie

Michael Vlismas

For Neil McKenzie, it certainly has been a season to be jolly. The Northerns Titans batsman produced another sublime performance with the bat to guide his team to a three-wicket victory over the Highveld Strikers in their Standard Bank Cup match at Supersport Park on Friday.

McKenzie carried his bat for 83, with Northerns having reached the 270 they needed for a victory and with two overs and three wickets to spare.

The victory caps a remarkable year for McKenzie, in which he was not only the backbone behind the Titans on the domestic front, but also won selection to a national squad that has relied heavily on his form of late.

But the Strikers' Adam Bacher still managed to steal the limelight with his superb 134 not out on a night when everything pointed to a win for the visitors.

Strikers captain Clive Eksteen won the toss and elected to bat first but the visitors slumped to 29 for the loss of two before Daryll Cullinan sparked a tremendous comeback that was carried forward by Bacher.

Cullinan and Bacher combined superbly for a third-wicket stand of 201. Cullinan started the charge with a quickfire half century off 64 balls, going to his 50 with a superb six over the head of Titans leg-break bowler Johannes Myburgh.

Two overs later, Cullinan hit another big six, this time unleashing his bat on a delivery from Nigel Brouwers that landed halfway up the main pavilion.

Cullinan continued his punishment of the Titans spinner with a four hit through the covers off the next ball.

Bacher soon found his rhythm as well, and quickly overtook his partner. He claimed his century in the 40th over and via a six hit over deep square leg off Pierre Joubert.

Joubert's fifth ball of the over was also dispatched for six, and his last ball again finished over the boundary rope for four runs to see Bacher reach 101 off exactly that many balls.

Their partnership ended when Cullinan was run out by Kruger van Wyk in the 42nd over, sending him back to the dressing room six runs short of what would have been a deserved century. His 94 was scored off 91 balls, and featured seven fours and three sixes.

Bacher continued to torment the Titans bowlers. His most prolific over was the 44th bowled to him by veteran Rudi Bryson.

The batsman was dismissive of Bryson's bowling, hitting the second ball of the over for a four, the third for a six, the fourth for a four, enjoying a no-ball on the fifth, and then capping the over with a four off the last ball of the innings, taking him to 134 not out off 113 balls, including 13 fours and five sixes.

Chasing 270 for a victory, the Titans were given the start they needed with a useful 43 off 40 balls from Myburgh.

McKenzie then stepped into the middle and provided the necessary edge needed to overshadow a solid display from the Strikers.

His 83 was scored off 88 balls, with nine boundaries coming off a bat that has been full of runs all year.