Will Inland be up to the challenge?

2010-01-07 00:00

KZN Inland, second-last on the 14-team Cricket SA Provincial Three-Day Challenge log, face table-toppers Easterns at the Maritzburg Oval from today.

Unbeaten Easterns, with three wins from five, lead Griquas and Gauteng, while Inland’s position could improve this weekend as they have a game in hand over Free State and Namibia, who are just above them on the ladder.

Yet Inland’s four draws in four outings confirms that the Achilles heel for captain Tim Drummond and his team-mates in the three-day game is a lack of punch in the bowling department. And the outlook for the local leather flingers this time round doesn’t look too promising either, considering that Kobus Pienaar is averaging 87 with three centuries in the three-dayers while fellow top-order exponents of the willow, Jaco Booysens and Tumelo Moshele, are averaging above 50 during their stay at the wicket.

Meanwhile, Inland’s biggest nemesis when their batsmen take to the middle is the Pakistan-born leg-spin and googly exponent Imran Tahir, who has picked up 30 wickets in just four matches at an amazing 13.5 per pole. The 31-year-old Lahore native, who is contracted to the Titans, signed as Warwickshire’s overseas pro for 2010 just over two months ago.

What does this mean for an Inland line-up who will be without their most experienced cricketers — player/coach Doug Watson and former KZN Dolphin Morné van Vuuren?

It’s quite simple really — if you quell the jiggering heart rate for a moment.

What a wonderful challenge it will be for the likes of promising young Inland cricketers Chad Barron (21) and Kyle Nipper (22) to enjoy this rare opportunity in their fledgling careers of going eyeball to eyeball with a man who is a world-class exponent of his craft.

Meanwhile, KZN Coastal meet South Western Districts in Oudtshoorn and the KZN Inland women’s side plus their coastal cousins travel to Free State and Griquas.

And in round nine of the KZN Inland Premier 60 competition, Sunday’s pick looks to be that between hosts Lancashire and Midlands at the Michael Patricks Oval in Woodlands.

TEAMS

KZN Inland: Mario Olivier, Oliver Humphries, Glen Addicott, Bradley Moses, Tim Drummond (capt), Chad Barron, Kyle Nipper, Mbasa Gqadushe, Kimeshan Chetty, Narvaar Harridave, Richard Hlela. 12th men: Manny Mkhize (3-day); Dipak Anand (1-day).

Easterns: Sean O’Connor, Kobus Pienaar, Jaco Booysens, Hardus Viljoen, Imraan Tahir, Mangaliso Matabula, Tumelo Moshele, Mpho Bodibe, Rushdi Jappie, Petrus Mofokeng, Israel Hlengani, Ruan du Plessis.

KZN Coastal: Bradley Barnes, Khaya Zondo, Greg Fotheringham, Pierre de Bruyn, (capt), Fabian Crowie, Matthew Hulett, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Buckthorpe, Mthokosizi Shezi, Saidi Mlongo, Matthew Alexander.

KZN Inland women: Cherri Cannon (capt), Marlene Steenkamp, Pippa Payne, Natalie Archer, Serena Ferreira, Gugu Ngcobo, Yuvi Nurgen, Bianca Sakoor, Steph Bender, Nadia Hattia, Phumla Ndlovu, Amarejay Pawunkumar.

KZN Inland Premier 60: Standard vs Young Natalians (Wanderers); Varsity vs Northern Districts (Varsity Oval); Lancashire vs Midlands (Woodlands); Zingari vs K&L (Collegians Club).

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