Match Report

8 Jan 2017 - First XI (1A) vs Montrose

On: 10 Jan 2017

After a poor end to the 2016 leg, the Cape Town First XI began the 2017 half of the season with a comfortable bonus point-win in their Limited Overs clash against Montrose at the Boon Wallace Oval - a team who had up until then won both of their previous two matches in the competition by bonus-point margins to top the pool going into the game.  Having already suffered two prior defeats themselves, the result could not resurrect the home side’s chances of reaching the knock-out stages, but with the visitors’ rivals Victoria and Rondebosch also both winning comfortably, it threw open Pool D to create a three-way race between those sides for the one semi-final spot on offer.

As is often the case in the first match or two after the Christmas break, both sides fielded understrength sides due to several key players not yet being available.  It thus came down to which team was better off in this regard, and ultimately Cape Town proved to be the better balanced of the two, helped in addition by better contributions from their senior players.  As a consequence, the home side’s 100th Limited Overs match contested since the start of the 1997/98 season produced a 55th win for them, and kept their undefeated record against Montrose in the competition intact over the four times that the two sides have met in the format during that period.

Montrose had elected to bat first upon winning the toss, and notwithstanding a silly early run out made good initial progress as Chirac Kloppers struck a number of boundaries in the initial ten-over PowerPlay while adding 58 for the second wicket in 20 overs.  As has happened all too frequently, the home side’s seamers contributed to their opponents’ cause with a slew of initial wides and no-balls too, and it was left to left-arm spinner Tommy Jansen to make the breakthrough once introduced into the attack for the 20th over.  Reaping the benefits of getting the batsmen to play back, he broke the stand in his second over to give debutant wicket-keeper Tristan Coetzee the first of three catches, before adding a second scalp two overs later.  With seamer Nicholas Scott at the other end then taking advantage of the opening to dismiss the well-set Kloppers (42 off 71 balls, with five fours) as the first of two wickets in consecutive overs, the visitors consequently quickly slumped from 70-1 to 80-5 in the space of 6½ overs to surrender the initiative completely.

With only their captain Shabir Mallie thus left of their available experienced core, Montrose were left to fight a losing battle.  Mallie tried hard, striking a six and two fours in quick succession, but with Jansen picking up a third scalp at the other end and then the off-spin of Hilio de Abreu bagging two further victims in successive overs to reach the personal milestone of 50 Cape Town First XI career wickets, he was rapidly running out of support.  Thus obliged to attack, Mallie duly holed out on the boundary immediately afterwards (for 33 from 46 balls), before De Abreu completed the task of wrapping up the last four wickets in five overs to set Cape Town a moderate target of 144 for victory.

Despite three quick boundaries, the home side didn’t start their run chase too brilliantly either, as Mallie (who seemed to have gained a yard or two of pace since Cape Town last faced him in a T20 match in October 2013) struck twice in his first three overs and then engineered a run out of his own to leave the Plumstead-based outfit in real strife, struggling at 22-3 against a geed-up fielding side running on pure enthusiasm.

Cape Town had experience to call on in Mathew Goles and De Abreu though, and gradually they rode out the storm while picking off the loose deliveries.  Their patience was rewarded too, as Montrose’s lack of bowling reserves was gradually exposed when the back-up bowlers proved unable to maintain the pressure.  Now established at the crease, Goles and De Abreu posted their fifty partnership in 13½ overs together.  In the process De Abreu passed a second personal Cape Town First XI career milestone in the match, reaching 1 500 runs for the side.

Even following De Abreu’s dismissal, with the foundation already laid the game had become the home side’s to lose as the difference in respective playing depths became increasingly apparent.  Cape Town skipper Geoff Dods survived the last real testing period that Montrose had to offer, enduring a flurry of lbw appeals in quick succession, and thereafter stepped up his scoring rate smoothly to strike four fours in his 20 from 27 balls.  That left just 30 needed from a full 20 overs, and Brendan Young enjoyed himself by striking 25 of those from just 18 balls faced - giving Goles just enough time to reap the reward for keeping his end tightly locked up, by reaching his fifty from 90 balls immediately prior to Young carting two consecutive fours to secure the win with a full 15 overs to spare.