Unexpected result puts Pinetown on brink of Challenge League title

2014-03-06 00:00

IF neighbourly love counts in club cricket, then Pinetown Cricket Club are eternally indebted to Hillary Malvern after last weekend’s penultimate round of matches in the Challenge League Stream 1.

Throughout the season, the league has been a two-horse race between Pinetown and UKZN, Pinetown’s only two losses at the hands of the students.

It’s been a tale of tit-for-tat. Pinetown win with a bonus point and so do UKZN. As the season approached the final run-in, Pinetown were ready to accept their best efforts would only be good enough for second, thereby missing promotion to the Premier League, but it’s all turned rosy with UKZN suffering a shock 85-run loss to the Queensburgh side.

Pinetown meanwhile were doing the business against Simplex Reservoir Hills, picking up another bonus point with a 162-run win at Reservoir Hills.

Batting first after winning the toss, Pine­town’s openers Jamie Koen (25) and SA Colts player Jason Oakes (40) dug in on a tricky strip, seeing off the new ball.

It allowed Pinetown’s middle and lower order batsmen to chip in with important runs, keeper batsman Craig Romerill’s quick 43 getting Pinetown to a healthy 246-9 in their 50 overs.

With Pinetown’s seamers getting little reward for their early efforts, spinners Barry Dyer and Quinn Jones were operating from the eighth over and immediately spun their webs.

Dyer struck in his first over and the rot for Simplex had set in. Trading wickets, Dyer and Jones exploited the low and slow track to their advantage, both picking up four scalps apiece and taking each other on for a five-wicket haul.

With Reservoir Hills tottering on 84-8, Dyer wrapped up proceedings in his ninth over to finish with 6-22, complimented by Jones with 4-26 as the hosts succumbed for 84.

None of the batsmen had an answer to the spinners and Pinetown’s win was their 13th with a bonus point, from 17 matches, with two losses (to UKZN) and two draws, thanks to rain.

Hillary Malvern set a target of 156 for UKZN, after being bowled out for 155. Wayne Weppenaar (34) was the best with the bat, while Sahil Bissoon was rewarded with 4-25.

What should have been a walk in the park for UKZN turned into more than a nightmare as they were skittled for a mere 70, Devyn Scott (4-21) and Alvin Bauerschmidt (4-27) securing an unexpected 85-run win.

With this weekend the final round of matches, Pinetown have inched ahead in the title race, topping the standings with 69 points, one ahead of UKZN. Toti is third with 53 points, followed by Simplex on 50 and Railways 41.

It’s all to play for on Sunday as Pinetown travel to Verulam and UKZN meet Toti. Pinetown need a bonus point win to claim the title, while hoping Toti can prevent UKZN from a full house of points.

There’s intrigue and aspirations on the line in what should be a cracking final weekend of fixtures.

Then again, the weather could ruin it all by washing out matches and giving Pinetown the title.

Let’s hope the destiny of the league trophy is determined on the field.

Challenge League Stream 1 Results

Pinetown 246-9 (Oakes 40, Craig Romeril 43; Paul 4-35)

Simplex RHCSC 84 (Jones 4-26, Barry Dyer 6-22)

Pinetown won by 162 runs

Dawnheights 61 (Jones 3-10)

ACC 62-1 (Strydom 30*)

ACC won by 9 wkts

Verulam 112 (Kilendrian Moodley 38; Prenesan Moodley 4-20, Hoosen 5-28)

Railways 113-5 (Pather 3-31)

Railways won by 5 wkts

Quins 141-7 (Viljoen 46*)

Umzinto 70 (Labushagne 5-12, Liebenberg 4-6)

Quins won by 71 runs

Hillary Malvern 155 (Weppenaar 34; Bissoon 4-25)

UKZN 70 (Scott 4-21, Bauerschmidt 4-27)

Hillary Malvern won by 85 runs.

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