Easterns make heavy weather of defeat of Border
Easterns allowed what should have been a comfortable victory over Border in their first Standard Bank Cup match of the campaign to turn into something of a sweat before eventually triumphing by 15 runs.
The Border last-wicket pair of Dumisa Makalima and Geoff Love managed to add 42 before paceman Andre Nel wrapped up proceedings by bowling Makalima, who had made 21 off just 29 balls, with the first ball of the 44th over. That gave Nel an analysis of three for 35 and made him, along with Albie Morkel, who took three for 27 after coming on first change, the main architect of his team's success from a bowling point of view.
Ironically, though, the Easterns attack, including Nel and Morkel, were partly responsible themselves for Border getting so close to their victory target of 190, as they managed to send down 14 wides and five no-balls, one of the latter for what umpire Mike Gajjar, standing at square leg, ruled a "chuck" by medium-pacer Pierre de Bruyn.
Easterns also gave away eight byes in an extras tally of 32, which was 25 more than Border had allowed them as they compiled their total of 189 for six.
Border lost too many early wickets to be in with a serious chance of victory, with the first six batsmen falling for just 72 to the pace trio of Morkel, Nel and Kenny Benjamin, before offspinner Derek Crookes, who would later be named man of the match, chipped in with two wickets later on.
When Makalima and Love came together at 132 for nine, 58 runs were still required and their task seemed impossible, but with three overs left, the required number of runs had been reduced to just 21. Five were scored in the 43rd over, bowled by left-armer Mike Rindel, leaving them 16 to make off the last two overs. But the fiery Nel, who had thrown the ball down in frustration at the end of his previous over after a driving Makalima was put down by substitute fielder Anthony Pollock, steamed in and spreadeagled his stumps with the next delivery to dismiss Border for 174.
Easterns, whose skipper, Deon Jordaan, had won the toss and elected to bat, found themselves in trouble at 65 for four in the 16th over, with wicketkeeper Ian Mitchell having claimed two catches, off opening bowlers Vasbert Drakes and Piet Botha, and two stumpings off the bowling of offspinner Love. But Jordaan helped redeem his own decision as he and allrounder Crookes set about fashioning a partnership of 112 for the fifth wicket. It was slow but steady as both batsmen reached half-centuries to give the home side a defendable total. Jordaan eventually perished for 72, bowled by Tyron Henderson, but Crookes stuck around until the end for an unbeaten 58.
Love was the pick of the visiting bowlers, claiming two for 29 in his nine overs, while Drakes, Botha and Henderson each managed to collect one scalp.