UJ and NMMU both had to scurry over to the neighbouring Senwes Park following their respective matches at the Ibbies and NWU-Puk Ovals. UJ arrived full of confidence off the back of their seven-wicket victory over Pukke, while NMMU arrived knowing that four points separated them from Maties, who were in fourth spot.
It seemed as if UJ would continue as they had ended only an hour earlier, when Delano Potgieter hit two fours and a six in the fifth over off Anrich Nortje. Fast bowler Solomzi Ngweni was a handful, switching things up and possessing a deceptive slower delivery. His potent Yorker also kept the UJ openers guessing. Potgieter was Nqweni’s first victim.
The UJ batsman was caught driving straight. Spinner Junaid Dawood entered the attack in and in just his second delivery one drifted down leg, but spun back in and the dangerous Yassar Cook was trapped LBW for 12. UJ suddenly found themselves at 47/2, as the run rate dropped dramatically.
UJ had to begin rebuilding their innings after the strategy break at 56/3. Ryan Rickelton turned it up in the 14th over, but the run rate was still below six. Yaseen Valli and Rickelton were timing the ball sweetly, but NMMU were exceptional in the field and restricted the two at the crease.
Nwqeni was unplayable. He struck again after a brilliant catch by Onke Nyaku, who juggled the ball momentarily before gathering it to remove Rickelton for 32. Valli hit Nqweni for six in the 19th over, but the very next delivery he was caught, as Nqweni got his fourth and ended on 4-26.
UJ setting NMMU a target of 144 for victory. NMMU started very sluggishly, struggling to find the middle of the bat. Soon a frustrated Edward Moore was caught behind as they lost their first wicket. Kirwin Christoffels and Matthew Christensen took NMMU to 41, before Christoffels was runout for 15, after a fine fielding effort.
Harry Van Straaten pinned back the NMMU batsmen and struck just before the strategy break, Christensen stumped and NMMU on 55/3 after 10 overs. Almost identical to where UJ were at the same stage. NMMU struggled to get any meaningful partnerships going and soon found themselves five wickets down with just five overs to go, needing 60 to win.
They scraped their way to 100/5, but lost their five remaining wickets for just eight runs, as Van Straaten ended on man-of-the-match figures of 3/19. UJ seem to be obliterating everyone in their path. While the team’s batting has been the standout aspect of their performances, today’s bowling display will worry the other seven team at this year’s tournament.
Who can stop undefeated UJ?