First XI vs Bellville at Plumstead, 19 Nov 2022

Rebounding well from their heavy defeat the week before, Cape Town completed a hattrick of home wins with a hard-fought victory over Bellville – their sixth defeat of their Northern Suburbs rivals in the seven matches played between them since the scrapping of the Two-Day format in 2017/18.

Sticking with the recipe that had brought them success in their previous two matches at the Boon Wallace Oval, Cape Town again fielded first – and Brendan Young once more provided the early breakthrough that give the home side the immediate initiative.  However, matters began drifting away from the script thereafter, as Quinn van Oordt and Kyle de Wet then combined to steady the ship in a solid second-wicket stand.  At 53-1 after 15 overs matters were consequently fairly evenly balanced – until van Oordt inexplicably pulled straight at mid wicket in the last over before the drinks break to open the door for Cape Town once more.  Still, they were unable to take immediate advantage of that, as Cody Nieuwoudt then joined forces with de Wet to keep Bellville’s momentum going.  It might perhaps have been a bit different had a chance offered by Nieuwoudt to short mid wicket off Kyle Schreuder’s left-arm spin when 9* been accepted, as he thereafter went onto the offensive.  Together they took the total to just shy of the three-digit mark, but two overs later Schreuder had a measure of compensation when de Wet in turn holed out straight to a fielder.

It signalled the beginning of the end for the visitors’ organised batting, especially once Nieuwoudt, who had kept his foot flat on the accelerator pedal regardless to strike three fours and a second six in the space of three overs, tried one shot too many and bunted a simple catch from a top-edged sweep to fall for 45 from just 41 balls.  Even worse was to follow for Bellville though, as two silly run outs in three overs extended the collapse to five for 38 in less than eight overs, with Schreuder bagging three scalps for the first time in Cape Town colours.  The lower middle order had little to contribute either, and when Young struck again in the first over of his second spell, the visitors had subsided to 151-9.

As the home side had conceded just six runs to the three tenth-wicket partnerships that they had had to break up until that point this season, there was no expectation that the collapse would not be brought to its natural conclusion swiftly either.  However, last man in Herman Smith (who up until then had managed just 13 runs against Cape Town in five visits to the crease) opened his account with a four and then a six, and thereafter rollicked along merrily at a run-a-ball thereafter.  Number ten bat Abrie Coetzee did the same thing from the other end too, striking four fours of his own, and faced by this surprise counter-attack the home side faltered somewhat – Smith was dropped three times, including twice in the space of three balls.  It was a potentially match-changing stand, and when Coetzee drove the final ball of the innings behind point to run three and complete the 50-partnership off just 51 balls, it represented only the fourth 50-run stand for the tenth wicket that the Cape Town First XI had conceded in 453 competitive matches played since the start of the 1997/98 season (and the first since February 2015, when Durbanville’s Jaco Castle had scored 64 of the 65-run partnership in a remarkable assault that included six sixes in an over).

Despite now chasing a rather larger target than had seemed would be the case, the home side followed the same approach that had won them their previous two games at the Boon Wallace Oval – attack the bowling relentlessly from the outset.  On this occasion the task fell mainly on William Hantam’s shoulders, and he cut, pulled and drove six fours from the first seven overs in response.  At 42-0 after eight overs Cape Town were consequently cruising, but after having missed out with the bat, Bellville skipper Marcus Fourie made up for it with his left-arm spin by engineering two wickets in his first three deliveries.  He followed this up with two more scalps by the end of a controlled spell that at one stage had conceded just 18 runs from his first seven overs, as matters appeared to be slipping away from the home side at 95-5.  However, Fourie took a bit of tap in his last three overs as opening bat Mathew Goles, who had stood firm all along while watching the wickets fall at the other end, now began to hit his stride.  His fifty was duly completed from 71 balls faced, while at the other end his captain Geoff Dods continued on from where he had left off the previous week.  As a consequence, the pair put Cape Town neatly back on track for victory by taking the home side to 159-5 as they entered the final ten-over PowerPlay.

Once again there was a twist in the tail though, as Jordan Collier’s left-arm spin finally dismissed Goles (71 from 97 balls, with two sixes and seven fours) as the first of three wickets in four overs, which included Smith recovering from some early punishment to dismiss Dods with a snorter as well.  As a result a tight finish threatened, with 34 wanted from the last six overs and two new batters at the crease.  Ultimately though, some crisp blows by Matthew Olsen off Smith finally settled matters in Cape Town’s favour, with a no-balled beamer producing the winning run in anti-climactic fashion with just two wickets and nine deliveries to spare.

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