KZN Inland face daunting contest at Oval

2010-02-25 00:00

KZN Inland have a major, well … challenge, on their hands when they take on the high-flying Highveld Strikers of Gauteng in Provincial Challenge three-day and 40-over cricket from today to Sunday.

The Maritzburg Oval should see some excellent first-class cricket as the visitors have had a successful season and are pushing strongly for the three-day and limited-over titles.

Inland lie in 14th and last place on the three-day log while Gauteng are in second place.

Gauteng won the three-day title in 2006/07, and have always been close to the top in the last three seasons.

In contrast, Inland have always been near or at the bottom and have just four victories in their last 28 three-day matches — and three of those were four seasons ago.

The last three seasons have seen Inland win one three-dayer from 21 matches.

The formbook suggests Inland are also going to find Sunday’s 40-over encounter a daunting challenge, as Gauteng are top of the log this season with Inland in second-last place.

Gauteng also have one limited-over title to their name over the last three seasons, beating Northerns by six wickets in the 2007/08 final in Johannesburg.

Over the last four seasons, Inland have won six from 28 limited-over outings to Gauteng’s 21 victories from 31 matches.

Last season, however, Inland did reach the limited-over semi-finals, while Gauteng had an unusually bad one-day season.

Inland coach Doug Watson told The Witness yesterday that Maritzburg Varsity’s Chezlin Nhlapo comes in for Dipak Anand while Kyle Nipper is back and replaces Mbasa Gqadushe.

Gauteng have one of South Africa’s best coaches in Grant Morgan, as well as a host of quality cricketers.

To mention just a few, batsmen Jean Symes, Stephen Cook and Themba Bavuma have all scored heavily this season with five centuries between them in this competition alone — and we won’t even mention Cook’s legendary exploits with the bat in other competitions — while Gauteng’s slow left-arm chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi, who has just turned 20, is enjoying a wonderful debut season and has harvested 26 first-class wickets thus far.

TEAMS

KZN Inland: Tim Drummond (capt), Mario Olivier, Oliver Humphries, Bradley Moses, Glen Addicott, Chad Barron, Chezlin Nhlapo, Kimeshan Chetty, Narvaar Harridave, Richard Hlela, Brady Barends, Kyle Nipper. 40-over: Morné van Vuuren. Coach: Doug Watson.

Gauteng: Stephen Cook, Jean Symes, Grant Mokoena, Themba Bavuma, Devon Conway, Warren Shankland, Pieter van Zyl, Graham Hume, Ugasen Govender, Tabraiz Shamsi, Johnson Mafa, Grant Thompson. 40-over: Richard Das Neves, Richard Cameron, Khaalid Moothosamy, Diaan van Wyk. Coach: Grant Morgan.

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