Bailey puts Warriors in comfortable position

2014-03-14 00:00

A BRILLIANT, undefeated century from middle-order batsman Ryan Bailey helped the Chevrolet Warriors to a competitive 284 all out shortly before stumps in their Sunfoil Series clash with the bizhub Highveld Lions at Axxess St George’s in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The Lions then had just one over to contend with in reply, but captain Stephen Cook perished on the fifth delivery from Andrew Birch and the Warriors ended the day on a high note still leading by 284 runs.

Bailey, who reached the milestone in what proved to be the last over of the Warriors innings, finished unbeaten on 102, while opener Michael Price, with whom Bailey shared in a partnership of 86, compiled an impressive 97 at the top of the order.

But the plaudits of the day must also go to paceman Hardus Viljoen, who returned figures of six for 98 in his 28 overs to cap off a lion-hearted display of seam bowling.

Left-armer Cliffe Deacon also came to the party, as he finished with a more-than-useful four for 46 in his 22 overs.

It left the game firmly in the balance by the close of play, although the hosts are the ones who will feel they have the momentum courtesy of their early strike.

The Lions had earlier won the toss and inserted the home side, and the decision appeared to pay dividends as the combination of Viljoen and Deacon left the Warriors in real trouble at 18 for three.

Price, who had witnessed the carnage from the other end, was joined by Colin Ingram (23), and the pair were forced to do a re-building job. Re-build they did, as they saw off some relentless early pressure to raise an invaluable 50-run partnership. There was to be no further damage before lunch, as the duo departed the field with the score on 81 for three.

But Ingram was only able to add two runs to his tally once the players came back onto the field before he hung the bat out to one from Deacon, and was safely pouched by Neil McKenzie at first slip. And, with the score on 91 for four, the Lions were once again in the ascendancy.

The going was understandably slow thereafter, but new-man Bailey and Price quietly began to change the complexion of the game, and the latter eventually clipped one to the third-man boundary to bring up the 50-stand shortly before tea.

Both men held an increasingly frustrated Lions attack at bay for the remainder of the session, and at 166 for four at tea, the Warriors appeared to have the edge.

The loss of Smuts with the score on 252 proved to be pivotal, as Athenkosi Dyili (2) and Birch (9) fell soon after to swing the game somewhat.

It became a race against time for Bailey to reach his eighth first-class half century, and he began to up the ante. He deservedly got there in the 93rd and final over.

Viljoen then picked up his fifth and sixth wickets in the five deliveries that followed, as he cleaned up Rusty Theron (5) and Basheeru-Deen Walters (0) — and the innings — to seal an 11th five-wicket haul.

But it was the Warriors who would have the final say, as Cook ill-advisedly shouldered arms to one that nipped back onto his stumps in the fifth delivery of the only over remaining in the day.

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