AFTER some easy pickings recently, Eastern Province found themselves having to work much harder against a determined Northerns batting side on the opening day of their CSA Provincial three-day cricket match at Grey High yesterday.
After deciding to field first, Colin Ackermann’s men could have been reasonably satisfied with a score of 97/3 at lunch.
Two more wickets by the time the visitors had reached 150 put EP in the driving seat, but Northerns were not ready to capitulate and a key sixth-wicket partnership between Shershan Naidoo and Heinrich Klaassen of 76 helped to a final total of 274.
In seven overs before the close, EP reached 30 without loss and Jon-Jon Smuts (11) and Eddie Moore (13) will resume today.
After patiently kicking his heels on the sidelines this season, EP seamer Siviwe Gidana welcomed an opportunity and took 4/41 to lead the way for the home attack. Northerns’ early resistance came from Lerato Kgoatle (37), Sean Dickson (54) and Qaasim Adams (26), who batted confidently for much of the morning session.
Kgoatle did have several slices of luck, being dropped on five in the slips and edging several short deliveries over the slip cordon.
But, on what seemed a slow but good batting pitch, they weathered most of what EP threw at them.
The home attack, who had dismissed their opponents for less than 200 in their past five innings, kept chipping away and seemed to have seized the initiative when the fifth wicket fell at 150.
Klaassen and Naidoo averted disaster and batted Northerns into a much more comfortable position.
Klaassen was first to go, caught by Kelly Smuts at point, but Naidoo kept the innings going until near the end when Attie Dyili, normally a wicketkeeper, took a fine catch after the Northerns batsman skied one into the covers.
Gidana wrapped up the innings shortly afterwards, being rewarded for his perseverance, while Anrich Nortje and Warren Bell chipped in with two wickets each.