EP in control on day one

EASTERN Province skipper Colin Ackermann struck his second century in successive matches at Axxess St George's to lead his team to a handy total of 297/8 declared on the opening day of their CSA Provincial three-day match against South Western Districts yesterday.

The home side gave themselves five overs to grab a few wickets in the dying moments of the day, but Ross McMillan and Waldo Lategan stood firm and will continue the SWD response today.

Just more than a month ago, Ackermann hit his first century for the Warriors with an excellent 110 in their Sunfoil Series match against the Titans.

The EP righthander has been in prolific form this season and yesterday contributed a classy 105 to his team's total.

Ackermann seems to have perfected the batting concept of combining a solid defence with an ability to send the loose ball to the boundary, and this has led to a stream of runs from his bat this summer. He must surely be a contender for higher honours when the Warriors' four-day competition resumes.

He was fortunate at one stage yesterday, being dropped at first slip with his score on 43 off the bowling of the admirable Douglas Baartman. But the EP man remains unruffled by such close calls and he was soon back in control.

After winning the toss, EP lost David White early on, lbw to Gurshwin Rabie, but Ackermann became involved in his first key partnership with Michael Price as they added 63 for the second wicket.

Price was in a commanding mood in the opening overs and confidently drove a number of deliveries to the cover boundary against the new ball. He had posted a most useful innings of 53 when Baartman gained an important breakthrough just before lunch.

The SWD seamer showed impressive resilience after openers Rabie and Marcello Piedt had been relatively expensive.

He probed away at the EP batsmen and added James Price and Attie Dyili to his haul to ensure the home side were kept in check.

Both Kelly Smuts (24) and an aggressive Dyili (29) looked good during their innings, but they will be disappointed at not transforming a good start into something much more substantial.

Smuts batted for an hour and hit four fours, while Dyili was in a much more forceful mood, scoring his runs off just 29 balls with seven fours. The day's play looked evenly balanced at 197/5, but Lee-Roy Walters then contributed a handy 40 in an 83-run stand with Ackermann in 18 overs.

That ensured an EP total near the 300-mark and they will now look to their attack to create some sort of pressure on the SWD batsmen.

For his labours, Baartman was rewarded with 3/57 in 26 overs, while skipper McMillan lent very good support.

He was steady rather than spectacular, but a return of 3/37 in 20 overs shows how accurate he was and his effort was important to SWD's overall cause.