Eagles thrash Dolphins in Pro20 opener
Free State's Goodyear Eagles began the defence of their Standard Bank Pro-20 title in impressive style with an overwhelming, 70 run thrashing of the Dolphins.
Free State's Goodyear Eagles began the defence of their Standard Bank Pro-20 title in impressive style with an overwhelming, 70 run thrashing of the Dolphins at Goodyear Park on Wednesday.
Having posted an intimidating victory target 172 following their well organised total of 171-7, the home side restricted the hapless Dolphins to just 101-9 to set a benchmark for professionalism in the 2005 competition.
Visiting skipper Hashim Amla chose to bowl first after winning the toss and a cunning plan to use slow bowlers, even part-timers, was bravely employed with mixed success.
Openers Morne van Wyk (35 from 24 deliveries) and Jonathan Beukes (36 off 34 balls) laid a fine platform for the home side but the immediate loss of Loots Bosman for a three-ball duck meant an inevitable loss of impetus.
Davey Jacobs repaired the damage with a combination of subtle nudges and bludgeoning drives in a top score of 44 from 32 deliveries while Benji Hector, Craig Thyssen and Ryan McClaren all chipped in with vital boundaries towards the death when the slog overs were at their most frantic.
The Dolphins reply was a disaster. Imraan Khan (2) sliced the perenially under-rated Johan van der Wath to backward point with the total on seven and the wickets tumbled incessantly thereafter.
Fellow opener Doug Watson (11) was trapped lbw by a Cliffie Deacon inswinger and the key wicket of Shaun Pollock, playing as a specialist batsman at number three, was earned by a Bosman throw from the deep which ran the former national captain out as he strained for an unlikely second run.
Off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala bowled with stunning control and flight - admittedly against opposition in desperate straits - but was fine value for his two wickets at a cost of just 18 runs in four overs.
He also enjoyed the added bonus of running out Dolphins skipper Hashim Amla when a fierce drive from Lance Klusener deflected from his hand onto the non-striker's stumps.
Van der Wath (2-16), who was just recently persuaded not to take a Kolpak contract with an English county by coach Corrie van Zyl, and Deacon (2-20) were equally impressive during a display that emphatically comfirmed that Eagles cricket is the best in the country, and has been for the last year.