Marais fires Border to Africa T20 Cup final
Marco Marais continued with his sensational form as Border booked their ticket to a first Africa T20 Cup final after demolishing Easterns by seven wickets at Buffalo Park in East London on Sunday.
Phaphama Fojela and Basheer Walters also played pivotal roles by sharing five wickets as the home side chased down a 135-victory target with 38 deliveries to spare.
Border will now meet Gauteng in Monday’s Heritage Day final after the Johannesburg side overcame North West in their earlier semi-final.
In a largely one-sided last four affair, the home side had initially lost the toss and were asked to bowl first, but it mattered little to their bowlers as they set them on their way with a clinical performance with the ball.
They restricted Easterns to just 134 for nine as Fojela bagged three for 18 in an impressive four overs.
Together with Walters (2/15), they had Easterns in early trouble on 20 for three, before captain Grant Thomson, the top-scorer with 53 (39 balls, 5 fours, 1six), and Sizwe Masondo (34) began a recovery job that took them to 100.
But panic set in after the dismissal of the latter in the 14th over and it disrupted the momentum, leaving the visiting tail struggling to bat out their 20 overs.
It was then the Marais show as Border wasted little time in racing to victory. The opener, who scored two hundreds on the opening weekend of action, shared in a century stand with Gihahn Cloete (40) that came in under nine overs.
Marais blitzed 64 off 25 balls, which included seven sixes and two fours – the partnership paving the way for victory in 13.4 overs.
Half-centuries by Temba Bavuma and Wiaan Mulder helped Gauteng reach the Africa T20 Cup final for the first time after they comfortably beat North West by 27 runs in their semi-final encounter at Buffalo Park in East London on Sunday.
There were also two wickets by Tumelo Tlhokwe (2/17) in a polished bowling display as the Johannesburg-based side bowled out their Potchefstroom-based opponents for 144 in 17.5 overs as they attempted to chase 172.
But the victory, which earned Gauteng a place in the Monday Heritage Day final, was undoubtedly set up by the Standard Bank Proteas pair – with Bavuma top-scoring with an unbeaten 79, in which he smashed five sixes and four fours from only 45 deliveries.
His side had lost the toss and were asked to bat first when they fell into some early trouble on seven for two.
But Bavuma and Mulder, who made 63 (43 balls, 10 fours), shared in a 111-run third wicket stand to propel Gauteng as they ended on 171 for five.
Migael Pretorius was the most successful of the NW bowlers with an expensive two for 38.
The reply was looking ominous thanks to a flying start by Kagiso Rapulana and Shane Dadswell (9). The pair put on 64 for the opening wicket in only 5.4 overs, before things went all wrong for North West.
From 64 for none, they slipped to 97 for four by the end of the 11th over, handing the initiative back to Gauteng.
The outstanding Rapulana – the match top-scorer with 85 (49 balls, 11 fours, 2 sixes) – was still there, though, and everything remained possible until he became the sixth wicket to fall with the total on 128.
And with a lack of support after the next highest score was 13 made by Nicky van den Bergh, NW then folded and were bowled out with 13 balls still remaining.
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