A round-up of the highlights from pool stages of the domestic tournament, with all quarter-finalists now confirmed
Dolphins and North West make up the final two teams in the CSA provincial T20 quarter-finals after the pool stages were completed in Bloemfontein. With the last eight now decided, the new hierarchy in South African cricket’s domestic structure is clear. Seven of the eight teams that have progressed out of the group stage are in Division 1 of the new set-up with only South Western Districts punching above their weight from Division 2. They will play the Titans in the first quarter-final next Tuesday.
The other match-ups are the Knights against Western Province, the Dolphins against the Warriors and the two new teams in the top-tier, Boland against North West. Lions are the only team from Division 1 who have not qualified for the quarter-finals of this tournament.
Pool C’s fixtures saw the Dolphins dominate with three victories, including an eight-wicket win over their nearest rivals, North West. They were pushed harder by Easterns, who fell eight runs short chasing 156 and then thumped the South African Under-19 side by 10 wickets to top the table. North West also earned a big win over the South African U-19 side but their progression out of the group went down to the final match, a thriller, as they beat Easterns by one run. Here are some of the pool highlights:
Baartman bowls the Dolphins into the last eight
The Dolphins got their campaign underway strongly when they restricted North West to 128 for 8, thanks largely to Ottniel Baartman‘s career-best 4 for 20. Baartman struck in the powerplay, again in the middle of North West’s innings and at the death to ensure the Dolphins would have a reasonable target to chase, and they did so inside 16 overs. He went on to take 2 for 28 in their next game to play a key role in their defence of 155 against Easterns but sat out their final fixture against the South African U-19 side. Baartman lies second on the bowling charts, one behind Hershell America and holds the best average of the tournament so far: 8.00.
What’s ailing the U-19s?
The South African U-19 side started promisingly, when they posted 172 for 8 against Easterns headlined by Dewald Brevis’ 25-ball 46 but lost their way as the tournament went on. They were bowled out for 99 by North West and 114 by Dolphins, against whom they also dropped several catches. It’s probably not a bad thing that senior domestic sides are bossing the age-groupers but the lack of partnerships in the line-up and bite in the bowling suggests there’s much work to be done for this group of players ahead of next year’s Under-19 World Cup.
Good move for Muthusamy
Senuran Muthusamy was one of the big movers over the winter, leaving Durban for Potchefstroom, where he has been given the responsibility of captaining the side. He led North West into the quarter-finals, with contributions with both bat and ball, most notably his 3 for 16 against the South African U-19s and his unbeaten 62 off 38 balls in North West’s must-win match against Easterns. As a left-arm spin-bowling allrounder, competing with the likes of George Linde and Bjorn Fortuin for a look-in at international level, it may be difficult to imagine Muthusamy will add to his two Test caps but some stand-out performances in the top division could put him back in the national picture.
Easterns eager to impress
It may not look like things went too well for Easterns in this tournament, but it was just one run that separated them from the quarter-finals and they had some impressive individual performances. Left-arm seamer Khwezi Gumede took 3 for 19 against the South African Under-19s, 1 for 29 against the Dolphins and 2 for 46 against North West to finish with six wickets – the joint second-most in the competition so far. On the batting front, Danie Rossouw, who came through the Northerns Under-17 side, scored back-to-back half-centuries and sits sixth on the batting charts. While they’ll be disappointed not to have made it to the next round in this competition, expect Easterns to be strong performers in Division 2 as the season progresses.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent