Potgieter leads Lions fightback in final

DELANO Potgieter of the DP Lions bats during the CSA 4-Day Series Day 3 final match against Western Province. | BackpagePix

DELANO Potgieter of the DP Lions bats during the CSA 4-Day Series Day 3 final match against Western Province. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 1, 2024

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DELANO Potgieter proved to be the thorn in Western Province’s side and the Lions’ saviour for the second consecutive innings in the Cricket SA 4-Day Cup final at the Wanderers.

Potgieter, batting at No 8, followed up his first innings 81 with an undefeated 89 to haul his team off the canvas and give them a fighting chance in a match in which they have been trailing the visitors for the majority of the first three days.

Despite a gritty 57 from nightwatchman Tshepo Moreki, which followed his maiden five-wicket haul, and a workmanlike 47 from Proteas Test skipper Temba Bavuma, the Lions found themselves floundering at 113/6 – an overall lead of just 26 with only four wickets remaining midway through the second session.

But cometh the hour, cometh Potgieter as he found an able ally in Bjorn Fortuin (42) as the pair added an invaluable 86-run partnership for the eighth wicket.

Their fight was ultimately ended by the irrepressible Dane Paterson (3/43), but the partnership has helped the Lions close the day on 282/8 with a now sizeable lead of 195 runs and still two wickets remaining.

Province, meanwhile, will wonder how they have let their position of dominance slip yet again towards the latter end of the day.

The visitors picked up three wickets in a 22-ball burst after Moreki’s first session resistance that saw the seam bowler face 110 balls and eight boundaries.

Mthiwekhaya Nabe was the orchestrator of the Lions mini-collapse that had Province dreaming of the domestic double and a weekend off to celebrate their triumph in Cape Town.

Nabe removed the dangerous Ryan Rickelton, who was not too happy with umpire Steve Davis’s decision before removing the in-form Wiaan Mulder with a brilliant delivery first up.

And when the injured Beuran Hendricks pushed through the pain barrier to send down a peach of a delivery that angled in before moving away to take Bavuma’s outside edge, Province were well on course.

But Potgieter had shown already in this match that he is made of the stuff every coach wants to bottle up and give each player to drink before they go out to play and he made life increasingly difficult for the visitors.

Left-arm spinner Kyle Simmonds would be particularly disappointed with his performance in the final after entering the contest as the joint leading wicket-taker in the competition with Fortuin, as he proved largely ineffective.

It is now Fortuin who may yet have the biggest impact on the final as it heads into the last two days with the Lions looking to extend their lead into something even more competitive today before their bowlers have an opportunity to turn the pressure on Province in what is building up to a fascinating fourth innings run chase.

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