Fine bowling by Tuks’ Thomas Kaber lay the foundation for their batsmen to finish off the job and set their sights on the knockout phase early on. Fresh off the back of a victory over UCT, Tuks had barely an hour to wipe their brows, hydrate, and take to the field for their clash against Kovsies on the Ibbies Oval at 14:00 on Tuesday afternoon.
Kovises won the toss and elected to bat first under welcome cloud cover at the Ibbies Oval. Both teams entered the match undefeated, as table-toppers Tuks were up against a resilient Kovises outfit. In just the second over of the match, Andries Gous’ stumps were ripped from the turf, as Vincent Moore claimed the scalp of the opener and Kovies were a wicket down with just four runs on the board.
Jacobus Dreyer and Eduard Venter steadied the innings. The two were content to rotate the strike rather than look for the boundary. In the ninth over they were clearly upping the tempo, but taking on the bowling of Thomas Kaber was a fruitless endeavour. Kovies were on 60/2 at the strategy break.
Every time Kovsies displayed signs of building momentum, Tuks struck. An excellent catch by Blake Schraader running in from the boundary at full tilt removed the dangerous Dreyer in the 15th over. Kovises never got going, as wickets fell regularly and the pressure mounted as time, or rather overs, eventually ran out. Kaber’s two for 21 off four overs was the pick of the bowling and Tuks were confident heading off the field.
That confidence was tangible as their two openers, Murray Coetzee and Matome Modiba walked out onto the pitch. The first over leaked 13 runs.
But the paced slowed slightly as Modiba and Gerry Pike anchored the innings. By the end of the fifth over Tuks were looking comfortable on 26/1. In the ninth over Kovsies introduced spinner Michel Swanepoel, who got the breakthrough when Modiba was stumped. He ended on 26 off 26 deliveries.
Cue Evan Jones. Wasting no time when he stepped in, in the ninth over, Jones obliterated Jacobus Dreyer, smashing three sixes in the over and scoring 22 off it. Jones’ run came to an end when he was well-caught by Venter for 25 in the 12th over, off Van Dyk’s bowling.
Then, just two deliveries later, the new batsman at the crease was sent straight back – Thomas Kaber out for just four runs. Then momentum swayed once more. In the 16th over Tuks elected to take their Power Plus over. Kovises put in Johannes Van Dyk, who had been their most effective wicket-taker.
But Tuks still managed 22 in their Power Plus over. The match ebbed and flowed, but that Power Plus over was the difference, as Tuks won the match comfortably in the end, reaching 133 with 15 balls to spare. And the defending champions march on, remaining undefeated.
Will anybody be able to stop this steam train in its tracks?