Border hang on for draw with Easterns bowlers on fire
With some enterprising batting during the morning session and some tight bowling in the afternoon, Easterns managed to put the Border semi-professional team under plenty of pressure at Buffalo Park on Saturday.
At the end they needed three wickets for victory with Border well short of their target.
Starting the day in the good position of having a 131-run lead with all 10 wickets intact, the Easterns openers, Zwelo Ntsimbini and Wesley Marshall took their opening partnership to 162. This was after Easterns scored 320 on Thursday and Border 315 on Friday.
By lunch on Saturday Marshall, who was on 75 overnight, had moved to a magnificent 165 not out with Easterns on 270 for two wickets and holding a commanding lead at that stage of 275.
Marshall went to his double century, 201 not out, comfortably beating his previous highest of 152. It was his fifth first-class century and he occupied the crease for just over five hours, facing 199 balls and hitting 23 fours.
Easterns then declared at 341/3, setting Border a target of 347 off 60 overs at just under 5.8 to the over.
But Border was in immediate trouble. With Border on nine, Martin Walters was lbw to Ryan Cartwright for six. Then Brad Williams 42, and Mkhululi Calana, 28, added 71 and at 80 for two, Jason Niemand came to the crease.
He was the non-striker as three of his Border team-mates departed to the pavilion. Malwande Zamo, who failed to score, and Marco Marais, who made a century in the first innings, went for three this time, both being victims of leg-spin and googly bowler Dyllan Matthews.
Then Mncedisi Malika was pouched by an awesome diving catch by Easterns wicketkeeper off Rowan Richards for seven, and at 116 for six wickets it was time for Border to put up the shutters.
Niemand was joined by Bongolwethu Makeleni, and the two took the score to 140 when Niemand was out to part-time bowler Marshall. He grabbed his first wicket in first-class cricket with his first ball which rapped Niemand on the pads in front. He had bowled in previous matches with no success.
Makeleni and Sithembile Langa hung on grimly and at 6pm, with Border on 146/7 and the light fading rapidly, the umpires stopped play for bad light.
Perhaps in the end what saved Border from defeat was that Easterns had delayed their declaration too long.
It was nevertheless a most entertaining match with Marshall emerging as the star...