CSA Final set for intriguing final day

MALUSI Siboto of the DP Lions bats during the CSA 4-Day Series Day 4 Final match against Western Province at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. | BackpagePix

MALUSI Siboto of the DP Lions bats during the CSA 4-Day Series Day 4 Final match against Western Province at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 2, 2024

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AFTER four days of fluctuating fortunes, it is the Lions that have dramatically turned the tables on Western Province to head into the fifth and final day of the CSA First-Class final at the Wanderers as favourites to claim a sensational come-from-behind victory.

The Lions have been chasing the game since being reduced to 35/5 on the first morning, but through the brilliance of all-rounder Delano Potgieter and a listless effort by Province in the field yesterday, they now need just seven wickets to claim the title.

Potgieter struck a career-best 155 not out (244 balls, 18x4, 1x6) to lift the Lions to an imposing second innings total of 394 – setting Province an almighty 308 to win.

Potgieter found able support down the order, with No 10 Codi Yusuf contributing an invaluable 46 to go along with his first innings 34.

Province toiled in the morning session as they seemed bereft of ideas before Kyle Simmonds eventually brought the 118-run partnership for the ninth wicket to a close.

Mthiwekhaya Nabe, who was the most successful Province bowler, fortunately for the visitors, did not waste too much time in picking up last man Malusi Siboto to finish with figures of 4/90 from 25.2 overs.

The visitors would have been deflated at the change of innings as they were once in the advantageous position where the Lions’ lead was just 26 runs with only four wickets remaining.

Instead, the Lions were able to add a further 281 runs for those four wickets which enabled them to set WP a stiff target.

The run chase began in a positive manner for Province with Eddie Moore and Tony de Zorzi adding 55 runs for the first wicket, but as they have shown throughout the match, the Lions found a way to claw their way back.

And they did so in sensational fashion with left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin causing a mini-collapse that saw Province lose three wickets for the addition of just two runs.

Fortuin initially picked up the big wicket of Moore for 26 before removing Gavin Kaplan for a duck.

Between these dismissals Malusi Siboto also had the experienced Mohammed Yaseen Vallie caught behind without scoring, and suddenly the Lions were firmly in the driving seat with Province perilously placed at 57/3.

But as has been the case throughout the season, Province fell back on their hugely inspirational captain Kyle Verreynne (26 not out) along with De Zorzi (38 not out) to shepherd the visitors to an early close due to bad light without any further alarm bells.

Province walked off to the safety of the change room on 99/3 still requiring a further 209 runs for victory.

A large chunk of those runs will be heavily dependent on how far Verreynne and De Zorzi can extend their current partnership on the final day.

Equally, the Lions will be looking at Fortuin, who is the leading wicket-taker in the competition, to spin the home team to victory.

It’s all set up for an intriguing finale to the first-class season.

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