Cape Town Cricket Club v Ottoman Cricket Club at OCC, 2 March 2019

As the Western Province Cricket Association 2018/19 season entered its final month, a solid top-order batting effort built around Mathew Goles’s second-highest score of his Cape Town First XI career, followed by a First XI career-best bowling return from Kent professional Adam Rouse, were sufficient to retain Cape Town’s 100% win playing record against Ottoman in their clash at the Hassan Howa Pavilion in Surrey Estate.  The bonus-point victory also allowed the visitors to leapfrog Bellville into fourth place on the Premier League log, but with frontrunners Durbanville still three wins clear of Cape Town and only four rounds remaining, that is unlikely to have any real significance.

Sent in to bat first, the visitors’ reconstituted opening partnership of Goles and William Hantam (which had largely been put on hold after the season-opening AMA20/20 campaign when Northamptonshire opening bat Ben Curran joined the side) continued to prosper, adding 65 together (their third fifty-plus stand of the season) inside 20 overs to provide a solid foundation for the batting to come.  Having now contributed 227 runs for the first wicket in the four matches since being reunited against Langa in early February, and 345 runs in nine stands altogether this season, they are one of the First XI’s success stories of 2018/19. 

An immaculate opening spell of 5-3-3-0 by the home side’s Josh Savage was solely responsible for keeping things fairly quiet initially, with just 29 coming from the opening ten-over PowerPlay.  However, once he was replaced the runs – helped by a generous ration of wides – began to flow at a steady average of four to the over.  Though Hantam fell along the way, there was no let-up for Ottoman as Joffvre Duminy (half-brother of Proteas international Jean-Paul) continued building on the promise shown in his debut the week before, striking a six and two fours in a fluent 28.  Goles meanwhile reached a second consecutive half-century, from 75 balls with a six and five fours, before linking up with Tristan Coetzee to take Cape Town beyond the 150-mark with eight wickets in hand.  Eventually it took a great catch just inside the long on rope to get rid of Goles (76 from 127 balls) as Savage returned to the attack, but Coetzee continued on for a while longer to pass 500 career runs for the First XI.

By then, though, there were just five overs remaining in the innings, obliging the visitors to sound the charge against Savage and fellow opening bowler Mujahid Isaacs.  The net result was mutual carnage on both sides, as Cape Town garnered 41 from those last five overs, but lost five wickets in the process too.  Clinton Botha stayed long enough to provide the continuity needed to maintain the visitors’ forward momentum, striking a six and a four in his 24 from 16 balls, and though Savage and Isaacs finished with three scalps apiece, the final total of 220 was likely to prove challenging to most sides – let alone an Ottoman team that had only managed to win two games all competition (both against fellow bottom-four teams), and whose fate of being relegated was already a fait accompli.

Still, the home side began their chase most promisingly, as captain Taariq Behardien and Dayaan du Toit saw off Cape Town’s new-ball pairing before attacking the back-up bowling to post 48 together from the first 13 overs.  A tight run out while attempting an unnecessary second run opened up an opportunity for the visitors though, and when a second run out after a misunderstanding followed almost immediately after du Toit’s dismissal from a rash bottom-edged slog-sweep, Cape Town were again back in control of proceedings.

That dominance became ever clearer when thereafter only Aashim Kaushal managed to stay longer than eight overs at the crease, as Rouse – appearing once more for the Cape Town First XI to end a 60-match absence stretching over a little more than three years – then took over to preside over the second half of the innings: between his off-breaks and his fielding, Rouse was involved in six of the last seven dismissals.  Beginning by striking with his seventh delivery, moments before effecting the third run out of the innings to further derail the home side’s efforts, it was finally left to a brisk stand of 44 from 46 balls between Kaushal (28 off 45 balls, three fours) and Isaacs (30 off 34 balls, three fours) to provide a last spark of hope for Ottoman.

Taking 28 off four overs at the height of their stand, for a moment that hope seemed less than impossible too, and the home side entered the final ten overs needing 71 with that pair both going well.  Inevitably it was Rouse who snuffed it out though, dismissing them both in the very next over via impetuous strokes to effectively clinch the outcome in Cape Town’s favour.  That left just the mopping-up work for the visitors, which Brendan Young completed with two late wickets, while Rouse was also rewarded for his efforts with the second (and by far the most economical) four-for of his 15-match Cape Town First XI career.

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