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KwaZulu-Natal v Gauteng (Standard Bank League)

By Patrick Compton
13 January 1999

THE Dolphins just can't seem to win on their home turf. Last night, reigning champions Gauteng cantered to a six-wicket victory in their Standard Bank League match against an outgunned home team at Kingsmead, wrapping up the match with a full three overs to spare.

The victory takes them to the top of the log, a position they share with the Northerns Titans. KwaZulu-Natal, on the other hand, will have to look forward to the knockout tournament for their last remaining interest in silverware this season.

The Dolphins have lost all three of their home matches: against North West, Eastern Province and now Gauteng. In all three matches they had opportunities to win, but failed to take them.

Last night, wicketkeeper Keith Forde, who had a bit of a nightmare, twice dropped Zander de Bruyn, who subsequently went on to make a valuable unbeaten half-century, as well as failed to run out Adam Bacher (38) early in his innings. Bacher was also dropped by Keith Storey at fine leg, but fortunately this didn't greatly affect the outcome of the match as Bacher was dismissed soon afterwards. To round off his unfortunate match, Forde, in his role as pinch-hitter, was out in the first over of the Dolphins' innings, ballooning a misconceived pull off Andrew Hall to mid-on.

The Dolphins may have hoped they had a sniff of a chance when Dean Laing's dismissal pegged the visitors back to 130/4 with their kingpin, Ken Rutherford, already back in the pavilion. As it turned out, this didn't matter because Nic Pothas - who always responds well to pressure - came in and struck an aggressive unbeaten 38 (6x4) in just 41 balls, helping De Bruyn to add a quickfire 54 to clinch the game.

Earlier, Dale Benkenstein won the toss and elected to bat on a slowish pitch that didn't encourage fluent strokeplay. After Ford's dismissal, a dour Doug Watson and a more aggressive Andrew Hudson gradually repaired the damage before Hudson, just when he was looking really threatening, played across a delivery from Justin Engelke and was bowled through the gate.

Benkenstein and a more positive Watson then added a brisk 32 in 37 balls, running superbly between the wickets, before Man of the Match Clive Eksteen made his critical mark on the match. After going for 21 in his first four overs, the left-arm spinner first removed Watson with a lovely delivery that lured the opener down the pitch before turning sharply away from him, leaving Pothas an easy stumping chance. In his next over he deceived both Errol Stewart and Mark Bruyns in the flight, getting them both leg before. In just three overs, Eksteen had captured three wickets for one run. It was a blow from which the home team never really recovered.

From 74/2, the Dolphins had plunged to 78/5 and although Benkenstein compiled a battling 49 with some able support from Jon Kent, Wade Wingfield and Anthony Botha, the home team's final total of 183/9 seemed about 30 runs shy of par.

And so it proved, despite some keen ground fielding, useful bowling from Kent and Wingfield and another fully committed performance from Storey who deserved better than his 1/28 in eight overs.

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