Sarel Erwee and Lefa Mosena laid the platform for KwaZulu-Natal Inland to claim a nervy three- wicket win over Zimbabwe in the opening match of the fourth leg of the 2017 Africa Cup T20 competition at Buffalo Park yesterday afternoon.
Erwee cracked a superb 80 and Mosena a solid 46 on their way to a 110 opening partnership, before a flurry of wickets then saw Inland lose seven wickets for 56 runs as they stumbled over the line with 11 balls to spare.
“I am happy with the result, to win your first game in the Africa Cup is a massive bonus, I suppose the disappointing thing for us is that we did want the bonus point,” said Inland coach Shane Burger.
“Sarel and Lefa got us in a great position to get the bonus point, so it is really disappointing that we didn’t, but it is good to see some of the younger heads at the end finish the game off.”
Chasing a 166 to win after winning the toss and inserting Zimbabwe to bat, Erwee and Mosena set off at a terrific rate, scoring at 10 runs an over to notch up a 110 runs in the 11th over, with Mosena then first out, bowled by Rugare Magirira for 46 off 34 balls (5×4).
Lower order big hitter Kyle Nipper was then pushed up the order to number three, but after working his way to six off 10 balls he was then caught by Neville Madziva trying to go for a big shot off the bowling of Ainsley Ndlovu.
Erwee’s sparkling innings then came to an end in the 15th over, going for another big hit seeing him caught by Tinotenda Mutombodzi off the bowling of Nathan Waller for 80 of 43 balls, with seven boundaries and five maximums.
With the score on 140/3 and the asking rate under a run a ball it looked as though Inland would cruise home, but some rash shots from the middle and lower order saw four more wickets tumble, with Ndlovu picking up two of them to return figures of 3/29, before Sohail Mahmoud cracked the winning boundary in the 19th over.
“There is a bit of weather about this weekend, so decided we needed to get a bonus point and a good run-rate in the first game to put some pressure on the teams playing second, so the plan was to go hard upfront but we just couldn’t finish it off,” said Erwee.
“I have been hitting the ball quite nicely in the warm-up games and practice nets so I was feeling confident coming into the game, so I am very happy with how it started and hopefully it continues over the weekend.”
In the Zimbabwe innings after a fast start Inland restricted them to 165/7 at the end of their 20 overs.
Timycen Maruma was the star with the bat, cracking an entertaining 81 off 55 balls (9×4; 2×6), sharing partnerships of 62 with opener Innocent Kaia (25) and 51 with captain Peter Moore (36) to set them up for a big score. But some impressive late innings bowling from Inland, in particular left-arm spinner Nduduzo Mfoza who picked up three wickets for eight runs in two overs, helped limit Zimbabwe to a chase-able target.