UWC reached the target with two balls to spare, as Parks hit three sixes in the final over of the match. And UWC are through to the semi-finals.
Everything was to play for, as Maties lay in fourth and UWC were right behind them in fifth, leading into the teams’ final match before the playoffs. It was to be the unofficial quarter-final of Varsity Cricket 2016.
Batsmen have relished the opportunity to redden their chunks of willow on the NWU-Puk Oval. Some of the biggest totals at this year’s tournament have been scored at this oval and Maties went in to bat first hoping to stick with the trend.
Jean Bredenkamp and Ricardo Vasconcelos started well for Maties, reaching 34 without loss after five overs. But soon after that Matthew Parks struck, removing Vasconcelos for a run-a-ball 18. David Bedingham joined Bredenkamp at the crease and together they took the score to 63 before Bedingham had his stumps dismantled by Parks, gone for 19 soon after that, Maties on 99/3.
Botha looked lively when he came in and hit Christians for a reverse-sweep six, but he fell for 21. The next seven overs were all about Bredenkamp, as the opener reached an unbeaten 93, scoring a massive 31 off the final over to take Maties to 200.
UWC looked up for the fight, and the fact that a total of more than 200 was chased down at the NWU-Puk Oval just two days prior (by UJ) would have given them hope.
The opening pair of George Banda and Ashley Cupido got off to a reasonably steady start, until the threatening Cupido as caught after some fine spin bowling by Kyle Simmonds. Simmonds struck again in his next over, removing UWC’s other opener, Banda, for 25. UWC found themselves in trouble at 71/4 after nine overs.
In stepped Mohammed Ebrahim. Partnering with Tayo Walburg, the two took UWC to 144/4. Mohammed saw most of the ball, thanks in part to his partner Walburg, as he hit sixes and fours to all areas of the boundary. UWC firmly in the match, needing 57 from 30 balls.
Ebrahim was handed a lifeline when dropped on the boundary after sending the ball sailing high up in the air. But two balls later he was out LBW to the spin of Niel Botha, a fantastic innings of 57 off 32 coming to an end.
Walburg took over the reins and UWC soon needed 38 off 18 for victory. But Botha struck again. UWC struggling against the spinners and suddenly the mountain got steeper, the summit further. Seventeen needed off the final over. Then, the stuff fairytales are made of. Eighth batsman, Parks, new at the crease, hits three sixes in the space of four balls, all three sailing over the mid-on and mid-off boundary ropes, along with Maties hopes of reaching the semis.
Jubilation as UWC run onto the pitch, tackling Parks. They’ve made it to the semis, defeating Maties by four wickets. And they did it the hard way.