Bouch has still got it

2011-03-05 00:00

THE ruthless Warriors kicked the Dolphins out of the Pro20 Series last night, but not before serving up a last-ball cliffhanger that belatedly got the crowd on their feet.

Mark Boucher kept his head and hit the winning runs, finishing on a clinical 57 not out off 53 balls as the Warriors won by four wickets off the last ball of the contest.

“It was another tight game, which is what semi-finals are all about,” Boucher said after hitting the last ball of the match for four to seal the deal.

The Dolphins again made life difficult for themselves, losing early wickets and then never getting any sort of momentum in the latter stages.

Cameron Delport was drafted in as an opener, but Makhaya Ntini’s love for lefties saw young Delport nick off the veteran’s first ball.

The unnecessary run-out of skipper Imraan Khan didn’t help, and it was all looking too familiar at 18 for 2.

Loots Bosman briefly raised hopes, as he clubbed 21 off 13 balls, including a towering six off old chum Ntini. But, just like in Port Elizabeth a week ago, Ntini had the last laugh. His response to being hit over the ropes was a delivery that jagged back beautifully, and Bosman’s timber tumbled to end another cameo that didn’t last nearly long enough.

Ahmed Amla (17) came in and hit the ball sweetly from the start, but the Dolphins were already behind the eight ball. They held back David Miller, hoping that the left-hander would finish the innings with a flourish.

Sadly, it didn’t quite happen that way. Vaughn van Jaarsveld (20) never got out of third gear, and when Miller was stumped for a similarly subdued 11, the Dolphins looked in danger of being bowled out.

Daryn Smit (12) and Jon Kent (22) gave the total some respectability, but 124 for 7 was never going to be enough.

The Warriors lost skipper Davey Jacobs to the very first ball of their chase, as he was trapped in front by Kent’s swing. The Dolphins were given further hope when Nicky Boje was nailed in front by Yasir Arafat, but the old warhorses, Ashwell Prince and the ice-cool Boucher, regained a measure of control for the visitors. They didn’t score at any great pace — the asking rate even got beyond 10 at one stage — but they added 39 runs to give the middle-order the platform needed to go after the big runs.

Prince was surprisingly bowled by Khan’s first ball of spin, but Boucher soldiered on. It is a sight not unfamiliar, of course, and so long as he was at the crease, the Warriors were the favourites.

JJ Smuts (14) hung around briefly, before he became Delport’s reward for a nifty spell of bowling.

When Arafat produced an excellent throw to catch Justin Kreusch just short of his ground, the crows suddenly came to life, baying for a Dolphins victory.

But still Boucher remained.

Needing 38 off the last three overs, first leg hero Craig Thyssen slammed 22 off just 11 balls, as Kent’s crucial 18th over went for a very expensive 18 runs.

Kyle Abbott managed to keep the Dolphins interested, despite Boucher clubbing two fours off the opening two deliveries of the penultimate over.

With 10 needed off the final six balls, Arafat flummoxed Thyssen with a slower ball, and a relieved Keshav Maharaj finally held onto a catch for the Dolphins.

But, there was no denying the Warriors. Lyall Meyer struck a fine drive for four, before handing the last rites to Boucher.

Having reached 50 in the previous over, Boucher needed two off the last ball. He proceeded to hit it straight down the ground for four, and seal the Warriors’ passage to yet another final.

For the Dolphins, it was another of what could have been. That they came to within a ball of forcing a third-leg was commendable, but their much-vaunted batting line-up went missing again when it mattered most.

They will, of course, take heart in that they reached the last four — especially after being rank poor last season. But having got this far, Graham Ford and company must be distinctly underwhelmed at the fare they served up in both the semi-final rubbers.

They never gave themselves a chance.

SCOREBOARD

Dolphins innings

L. Bosman b Ntini21

C. Delport c Kreusch b Ntini5

I. Khan run out (Meyer)2

A. Amla c Kreusch b Theron17

V. van Jaarsveld c Meyer b Boje20

D. Miller st Boucher b Smuts11

J. Kent not out22

D. Smit b Theron12

Y. Arafat not out6

Extras (lb2, w6)8

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs)124

Fall of wickets 1-6 (Delport 1.1 ov), 2-18 (Khan 3.5), 3-43 (Bosman 5.3), 4-63 (Amla 10.2), 5-80 (van Jaarsveld 13.1), 6-87 (Miller 14.5), 7-108 (Smit 17.6)

Bowling: Theron 4-0-28-2, Ntini 4-0-23-2, Kruger 2-0-18-0 (2w), Boje 4-0-21-1, Kreusch 3-0-20-0, Meyer 2-0-8-0, Smuts 1-0-4-1

Warriors innings

D. Jacobs lbw b Kent0

A. Prince b Khan21

N. Boje lbw b Arafat2

M. Boucher not out57

J. Smuts c Abbott b Delport14

J. Kreusch run out (Arafat)2

C. Thyssen c Maharaj b Arafat22

L. Meyer not out6

Extras (b1, lb1, w1)3

TOTAL (for six wickets, 20 overs)127

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Jacobs 0.1), 2-3 (Boje 1.4), 3-42 (Prince 9.1), 4-66 (Smuts 14.2), 5-81 (Kreusch 15.6), 6-115 (Thyssen 19.1)

Bowling: Kent 4-0-39-1, Arafat 4-0-24-2, Abbott 4-0-27-0, Maharaj 4-0-21-0, Khan 2-0-8-1 (1w), Delport 2-0-7-1

Result: Warriors won by four wickets

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