Free State completed a clean sweep of their Pool D matches at the Africa T20 Cup at the Mangaung Oval when they edged out Gauteng by 8 runs in the second of two closely fought finishes on Sunday. They thus top the log with 14 points with the other three teams-Gauteng, Kenya and SWD – all finishing on four points. It has been a wonderful weekend for a number of the Free State youngsters with Andries Gous and Michael Erlank putting together two good opening partnerships out of three, Romano Terblanche emerging as an effective death bowler and Patrick Botha shining with both bat and ball.
He is also an astute captain. For good measure he took a brilliant boundary catch that settled the issue. Gauteng needed nine off the last two balls with their key batsman, Devon Conway (42 off 51 balls, five fours) on strike. He drove Malusi Siboto high to the deep extra cover for an attempted six only for Botha to pluck the ball out of the air and at the same time manage to avoid the boundary rope.
Terblanche’s key moment came in the opening match against SWD when he took 3/1 off five balls in the 19th over and he was again on the mark today, leaving Siboto with a reasonably comfortable 12 runs to defend in the final over. Terblanche says: ‘We have had an excellent record over the past few seasons in T20 cricket, so our confidence levels have been high. We also had a good pre-tournament preparation. We always felt we had a good chance of defending our total. The smaller targets are often harder to chase than the big ones.’
The other key player for Free State today was their experienced franchise player, Obus Pienaar (42 not out off 48 balls, one four and a six and 2/14 in 3 overs).