The CSA 4-Day Challenge match between AET Tuskers and Northern Cape Heat played at Pietermaritzburg Oval over the weekend ended in a draw. The encounter between the two teams was interrupted by rain, so much so that the teams lost the entire first day and part of the third day to rain.
After winning the toss, which happened on day two, and choosing to bat first, the Tuskers had a solid foundation from which they could score a competitive total. Dilivio Ridgaard, who scored a patient half-century (79 from 200) built a 95-run opening partnership with Thamsanqa Kumalo (44). Unfortunately, the Tuskers failed to maximize on the start the pair had provided.
None of the rest of the Tuskers batters scored more than 40 runs. None broke the 30-run mark, and only one scored more than 20 runs. The Tuskers were bowled out for 228.
In their reply, Northern Cape Heat’s top five batters stumbled and only one of them, Ernest Kemm, came close to scoring a half-century. The Northern Cape Heat’s innings was saved by a 126-run partnership between Hanu Viljoen and Kelly Smuts. During the course of the partnership, Smuts recorded his 25th half-century and after Smuts’ dismissal, Viljoen recorded his maiden first-class century. Northern Cape Heat declared on 316 for nine.
After Northern Cape Heat’s declaration, the Tuskers were able to see out the day without losing 10 wickets. They were on 75 for one at the close of play.
On the morning of day four, Grant Thomson only survived long enough to add two runs to his overnight score of 17. Thomson was unable to add much and was back in the dressing room in the first half-hour of play. Thomson’s erstwhile partner, Ernest Kemm, did not do much better. The left-handed opener faced 45 deliveries in the morning session and added 14 runs to his tally before he was dismissed, trapped lbw by Michael Erlank. Kemm fell one run short of his 19th first-class half-century.
Unlike Ernest Kemm, Hanu Viljoen was able to reach his half century, which came off 111 balls. The 21-year-old now has three first-class half-centuries to his name. Viljoen’s partner, experienced campaigner Kelly Smuts was hot on Viljoen’s heels. The former Warriors player recorded his 25th half century a while later.
The impressive 126-run Viljoen-Smuts partnership was eventually broken by Gareth Dukes in the 87th over, 42.4 overs after they had joined forces. By then, the Northern Cape Heat had created a slim 32-run lead. Smuts was dismissed after scoring 58 runs from 125 balls. An over and two runs after Smuts’ dismissal, Viljoen lost another partner when Romano Terblanche was dismissed by Stefan Tait for a seven-ball duck.
After Terblanche’s dismissal, it looked as if Hanu Viljoen, who was now in the 80s, was going to run out of partners before he reached his maiden first-class century. 6.4 overs after Terblanche’s dismissal, Northern Cape Heat lost Johan van Dyk. Three overs later, Tshepo Ntuli was also back in the dressing room. But in the end, Viljoen was fortunate that Andrew Rasemene was able to stick around for long enough for the 21-year-old to reach the milestone.
Northern Cape Heat declared their first innings shortly after Viljoen’s century. They declared on 316 for nine wickets. Viljoen was unbeaten on 106 from 220 and Rasemene was not out on 12 from 12. Northern Cape Heat declared with an 88-run lead over the Tuskers.
Stefan Tait was Tuskers’ most successful bowler with four wickets from 22 overs. The pacer bowled five maiden overs and conceded 45 runs. Keith Dudgeon was the second-best bowler with two wickets from 24 overs.
The Tuskers’ second innings hit a speed bump in the third over when they lost Thamsanqa Kumalo. The Tuskers were on 28 for the loss of one wicket after Kumalo’s dismissal. Kumalo was dismissed by Romano Terblanche after scoring eight runs from 14 balls. His partner, Dilivio Ridgaard had contributed nine runs to the 28-run partnership. The other 11 runs were contributed by the Northern Cape Heat bowlers in form of extras.
Dilivio Ridgaard and Michael Erlank were able to fend off the Northern Cape Heat’s bowling attack for long enough to see out the day’s play without losing a wicket. At stumps, Ridgaard was unbeaten on 23 from 45 and Erlank was not out on 19 from 39 balls.
Romano Terblanche took the only wicket of the innings. Terblanche bowled four overs, no maidens and conceded 19 runs. The Northern Cape Heat bowling attack struggled with their lines in the Tuskers’ second innings. Of the Tuskers’ 75 runs, 25 of them came off extras.