Bowlers put EP in control

LEGSPINNER Lionel Vaaltyn sent down a 16-over spell, broken only by lunch, to help Eastern Province seize the initiative after they won the toss on the opening day of their CSA Provincial three-day cricket match against KwaZulu-Natal. Repaying the faith shown in him by skipper Colin Ackermann at Old Grey yesterday, the spinner, varying his pace and flight on a slowish pitch, claimed a highly commendable 4/30 as the visitors succumbed from 117/5 to 126 all out. At the close, EP had reached 107 for two, with Ackermann on 41 and David White (23) having posted an unbeaten third-wicket stand of 66. The pattern for the KZN innings was set in the first over when new-ball bowler Basheer Walters penetrated Chad Bowes's defence with the fifth ball of the day. The KZN batsmen never really got going and only Senuran Muthusamy (28), Jared van Heerden (22) and Sumanth Sukari (33) were able to make any sort of contribution. Muthusamy and Van Heerden added a patient 40 for the third wicket in 19 overs, but their association ended with a brilliant direct hit by Kelly Smuts at the non-striker's end, with Muthusamy caught just short. Wickets fell regularly after that as the EP attack vindicated Ackermann's decision to bowl first. Walters took the second wicket as well, with the score on 17, and will be pleased with his return of 3/19 in 12 overs in sweltering conditions. Vaaltyn was brought on before lunch and tasted success once in the morning session, which ended with the visitors on 73/4. After the break, he and Warren Bell tied up the KZN lower order and four wickets fell with the total on 117 as EP assumed control. There was an interesting bit of field-placing when, with Bell bowling, Ackermann moved James Price from second slip to a shortish mid-wicket. The seamer dug the next one in and Tshepo Moreki tamely parried the ball straight into Price's hands. Bell was again impressive with 2/45 in 16 overs, while the turn Vaaltyn created suggested he might have another extended spell in the second innings.