Smit’s stand too late

2009-01-11 00:00

THE Diamond Eagles will host the Nashua Titans in this season’s MTN Domestic Championships final on Friday after the Free Staters survived a late scare from the Dolphins at OUTsurance Oval yesterday.

Looking dead and buried at 184/7 in the 40th over, the Dolphins’ hopes were raised by a gallant 55 not out off just 35 balls from all-rounder Daryn Smit.

Fast bowler Quinton Friend (25) provided hearty assistance as the Eagles’ victory plans were put on hold until well into the 45th over.

Ultimately, though, the Dolphins fell nine runs short of their target.

After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Ahmed Amla would have fancied his side’s chances with the Eagles at 42/3 after 10 overs. The next stand, however, between Loots Bosman and skipper Boeta Dippenaar, then effectively sealed victory for the Eagles.

An impressive opening spell by Quinton Friend had accounted for the dangerous Rille Rossouw and Morne van Wyk slapped a Yusuf Abdullah long-hop straight to point, before Jon Kent had Dean Elgar very well caught at second slip by HD Ackermann.

125 runs off 145 deliveries was then added, with Dippenaar starting slowly, while an excellently-paced Bosman display took shape.

“Loots showed excellent maturity to help get us out of some trouble,” Dippenaar admitted after the match.

The inconsistent opener, who could have just as easily been playing in yesterday’s Twenty20 clash in Melbourne, displayed composure and control on his way to what looked a certain maiden domestic ton.

He contrived to throw his wicket away, however, as leg-spinner Daryn Smit sent down a knee-high full toss and Bosman somehow chipped it straight to a grateful deep square-leg to depart for 95 off 89 deliveries.

Dippenaar brought up his half-century with a huge six over midwicket off medium-pacer Saidi Mhlongo.

A target of around 230 looked likely when Friend returned to capture the key wicket of Dippenaar for 71.

But Dillon du Preez had other ideas and his quickfire 33, including 19 runs off the penultimate over, propelled the Eagles past the crucial 250 mark.

Smit, with three for 13, and Friend (3/46) were the pick of the visitors’ bowlers.

The Dolphins’ reply saw wickets falling regularly, with Imraan Khan failing and young Cameron Delport surviving a catch on the third-man boundary, only to be run out from the resulting return to the keeper.

Amla (37) and Ackermann (27) steadied the ship, but by then the asking rate had climbed above six runs an over.

Jon Kent’s 39 off 49 balls pushed things along, but there was just too much work left for Smit and the tail.

Amla saluted Smit’s defiant late stand, but looked back ruefully on the bowling effort.

“Maybe we gave away 15-20 runs more than we should have and in the end that cost us,” he said.

The Dolphins will now switch their attentions to the Pro20 competition, with their first match pitting them back in Bloemfontein against the rampant Eagles next Friday.

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