EASTERN Province and South Western Districts, eyeing different cricket titles, will need to stay on the winning path when they compete in Maritzburg and Oudtshoorn this weekend.
EP, without regular skipper and leading batsman Colin Ackermann, will be fighting to stay in contention for the CSA Provincial Challenge three-day title after a fine win two weeks ago against Boland in Paarl.
Ackermann has been promoted to the Warriors team and EP will be relying on Eddie Moore, with two centuries and two fifties under his belt this season, to lead the way against KwaZulu-Natal Inland.
In their favour is the fact that seamers Warren Bell (48) and Sisanda Magala (42) are among the leading wicket-takers in the competition. If they can continue that form in Maritzburg and force another win, EP could have an interesting finish to the season.
They go into today’s game 24 points behind log-leaders Western Province, but with a game in hand. Furthermore, they play WP in their final fixture in Port Elizabeth in a fortnight’s time and a win against KZN Inland could make that clash an interesting shootout.
North West, however, are also in contention, lying in second place, four points ahead of EP. They play basement dwellers Namibia next weekend and end off against Northerns at the end of the month.
EP will need some results to go their way to have a chance, but the bottom line is they, themselves, need a winning finish to the season to stay in contention. It is a similar scenario for SWD in the Twenty20 format when they host Border this weekend.
They will require other results to go their way and their only chance of succeeding is to win their final two games, probably with bonus points, to have a chance of topping the coastal pool. With two wins from four games, SWD are fourth on nine points, behind KZN Inland (17 from five), WP (13 from five) and Border (13 from four).
That will make Sunday’s showdown with Border a crucial game for both sides. Whoever wins that one will have a chance of ending top of the pool. The coastal and inland pool winners will contest the final.
There will also be much interest in the EP-KZN Inland T20 game on Sunday because a win for the KZN side should help them virtually lock up the top spot in the coastal pool, while defeat will keep it open with two rounds remaining. – Neale Emslie