Match Report

15 Oct 2017 - First XI (1A) vs University of the Western Cape

On: 17 Oct 2017


With Bellville having failed earlier in the day to achieve the bonus point-win necessary to ensure their own qualification for the semi-finals, Cape Town’s four wins on the trot were correspondingly sufficient to ensure the latter’s progress into the knock-out stage of the AMA20/20 competition before they even took the field for their final pool match against the University of the Western Cape at the PP Smit Sports Complex.  It was just as well for them too, as the Plumstead-based outfit were outlasted by the students in a tough arm-wrestle that continued right up until the game’s closing moments.

Electing to bat first on a somewhat dual-paced pitch, surrounded by a slow outfield following a downpour earlier that morning, Cape Town were never able to get going against accurate UWC bowling.  Having battled their way to 22-1 from the first five overs, the Plumstead-based side briefly threatened to break free of the shackles when William Hantam (29 off 25 balls) struck a six and two fours over the course of two consecutive overs, but he fell quickly thereafter to squash that momentum.  As a result, Cape Town could manage just 52-3 from their first ten overs, with even the explosive Tristan De Beer held to a-run-a-ball scoring rate in his 21.

Seamer Aaqil Ebrahim began his man of the match performance at this stage with a miserly spell of 4-0-17-2, dominating the middle overs and squeezing the life out of Cape Town’s scoring attempts, but he received excellent support from most of his fellow bowlers too.  It consequently took Cape Town until the 18th over to post a three-figure total, and though Mika Ekström battled through to the end to reach the highest score of his First XI career to date, the fact that he was only able to find the boundary once in his 10½ overs at the crease was fairly representative of all the Cape Town batsmen’s struggles.

Left to defend a target of less than six to the over, the University of the Western Cape were always the favourites from there to claim the win that would give them the other semi-final berth from Group A.  They first had to overcome a strong initial pushback from Cape Town though, as Darren Rolfe struck in each of his first two overs at one end, while Hilio de Abreu returned career-best AMA20/20 figures of 2-18 from his four overs of off-spin upfront with the new ball.  As a result, UWC lost their top four for just 37 inside the first eight overs, and the contest was definitely on.

However, their captain Erinn Ewerts found a rallying partner in Ebrahim, and once the former had survived a badly fluffed run out opportunity on 5*, the two settled in to add 50 for the fifth wicket over the next eight overs.  However, although the wickets were no longer coming, Cape Town were nevertheless doing a reasonable job of controlling the scoring rate, and for more than the first half of their stand not a single boundary was forthcoming.  With the students thus left needing to exactly double their score in the last eight overs to win, a tipping point had been reached – and Ewerts claimed it for UWC with two consecutive boundaries behind square on the legside in the 13th over.  With Ebrahim then chipping in with his first boundary shortly thereafter and Ewerts adding a third of his own, the rate had been brought down to a manageable 35 from the last five overs.

There was another twist yet though, as Ewerts then holed out on the boundary (for 33 from 31 balls) as the first of two wickets in consecutive overs to open things up again.  However, it was again Ebrahim who was on hand to deny Cape Town, edging a boundary wide of the keeper in the 18th over to bring the equation down to 14 from twelve balls, before employing some very aggressive running in the penultimate over to take advantage of some shaky ground fielding under pressure and put the result beyond doubt by taking ten off the penultimate over.  It was thus only fitting that the winning runs came from Ebrahim’s bat too, depositing a long hop over the mid wicket rope to finish in style with an undefeated 44 from 38 balls that took the students to top of the Group and thus booked their place in the semi-finals at the expense of pre-season expected front-runners Bellville.