Boland finished their group assignments of the Provincial T20 Cup with an all-win record, their three big wins giving them a nice-looking 13 points, while Warriors were second to the post, not as good as Boland, but that net run-rate of 2.067 was enough to give them something to crow about. Border impressed in patches in the Pool D matches, not quite pulling off the wins as they would have liked but with individual performances that left a mark, while for Limpopo, it was a forgettable time on the whole.
Fortuin finds a new home, and some form
Clyde Fortuin was part of the 2014 South Africa Under-19 side that won the World Cup, but unlike Kagiso Rabada and Aiden Markram, he has not found his way into the senior side just yet. In fact, Fortuin had not even found a domestic team to call his own and bounced around between Western Province and Northern Cape before settling in the Boland for the coming summer.
In his first match for the Rocks, Fortuin reeled out what will end up being one of the innings of the tournament, the second century after Zubayr Hamza's, and a knock that ensured Boland posted a match-winning total against the Warriors. After losing the Malan brothers with the score on 40 in the fifth over, Fortuin built a 118-run stand with Christiaan Jonker to take Boland to 183 for 5. He recorded a duck in his second match but finished with 151 from three hits to lie third on the batting charts.
Warriors lose, and then hit up 243!
After a 17-run defeat in their tournament opener, the Warriors line-up was merciless against second division side Limpopo and piled on the competition's highest-score to date: 243. Wihan Lubbe and Matthew Breetzke scored half-centuries each, and for Breetzke, it was his second successive half-century of the tournament, and he shared in a 129-run opening stand before JJ Smuts' 26-ball 52 and Diego Rosier's 15-ball 31 propelled them over 200. Limpopo used eight bowlers and only Malcolm Nofal conceded at less than ten runs an over.
No win for Limpopo
If that 120-run reversal wasn't bad enough, Limpopo ended with a winless season as they went down to Boland by 32 runs in their next game.
After two losses from two games, they were up against high-fliers Boland. Pieter Malan won the toss, scored just 13 - the Malans, together, totalled 14 - but with Fortuin hitting a quick 47, they had 141 for 8 on the board. It was a bowling effort to be fairly proud of for Limpopo. Don Radebe, the 24-year-old medium-pacer, and the pacy Sithembile Langa picked up five wickets between them and, really, 142 was as good a target as they could have hoped for.
But it's a team that hasn't managed to put up big runs often enough - the 96-run stand between Morne Venter and Juandre Scheepers in their first outing was a bit of an outlier - and it was more of the same as a platform of 54 (in eight-and-a-half overs) for the opening wicket was frittered away by the rest of the batters and Limpopo limped to 109 for 8. Shaun von Berg, the veteran legspinner, ended with 3 for 17 and a Player-of-the-Match award.
They won their first fixture, against Limpopo, and then went down to Boland - the table-toppers despite a fair fight in their second game, but then put up quite a show, even though it was in a losing cause, against Warriors in the last game of the round.
Warriors have the batting, and they opted to bat first, and Breetzke hit an imperious 46-ball 80, and Tristan Stubbs chipped in with 46 off 22 balls from No. 5 to give them an imposing 228 for 5.
That's usually enough to win big, and when Border went from 73 for 2 at the halfway mark of the chase to 82 for 5 just another over-and-a-half in, the chase looked dead in the water. But Border have been impressive in patches, and the last eight-and-a-half overs of their innings was one of those patches, this one courtesy captain Jerry Nqolo and Clayton Bosch, who hit 58* and 64* respectively in double-quick time to, well, not quite give Border a chance, but enough to take them past 200. Not bad, all considered.
That was true of Thomas Kaber in the first half too when, in the face of quite an onslaught, the left-arm spinner returned 2 for 30. In a match worth 435 runs, his effort was deemed the best of the lot.
Shaun von Berg
CSA Provincial T20 Cup