Gauteng’s Neil Eksteen was just one of the five batters who stole the headlines on a thrilling day one of the Momentum U17 Boys Week that kicked off in Durban on Wednesday.
The quintet recorded sublime centuries during a day where the 15 provincial sides and Zimbabwe faced each other in eight Time Cricket clashes.
With the batsmen taking control of most of the day’s encounters, there were numerous draws during the first day. The matches between Gauteng-Zimbabwe, North West-Western Province and KwaZulu-Natal Coastal-Limpopo could not provide a winner, while KwaZulu-Natal Inland’s thrilling contest against Border finished as a tie.
Elsewhere, Easterns, Northern Cape, Free State and Northerns claimed the convincing wins needed to begin their week on the front foot.
Eksteen reached his 145-run knock off 182 deliveries, including 18 boundaries and three sixes to help Gauteng post the biggest score of the day in their draw against Zimbabwe. He formed a crucial second-wicket stand with fellow centurion Levert Manje (123), worth 228 runs to push the Johannesburg side to 350-4 after 66.4 overs.
Zimbabwe fought back well with bat in hand, battling their way to 208-7 at the end of the day, largely thanks to half-centuries from Tadiwanashe Marumani (52) and Milton Shumba (50).
Johan Schonfeldt was the man of the moment in another impressing batting display. The right-hander starred for North West in their drawn encounter against WP, notching up an impressive 127, including 11 fours and a six to help his team post 252-7.
WP did not let up that easy, despite finding themselves 59-5 at one stage. The Cape side held their nerve and survived the onslaught, securing the result and finishing on 147-7 at the end of the match.
Following a superb bowling performance from Javano Baron (4-16) and his fellow bowlers, Boland’s Andrew Waitts strode out to open the batting with added confidence after they bowled out Northern Cape for just 100. The Somerset College scholar scored an unbeaten 114, taking his side to a match-winning 231-4 after 55 overs.
Boland needed only five wickets to secure victory and it took them a mere 17.2 overs to do so as Nkosinathi Yame (2-11) led from the front to dismiss Northern Cape for 65/5 and clinch an innings and 66-run triumph.
The other century from a run-filled day came from Free State’s win over Mpumalanga. Juan De Oliver scored a patient 101 off 150 deliveries to propel his side to a competitive 218 all out following Johan van Antwerpen’s 4-29.
That total proved enough for the Bloemfontein side as they went on to bowl out their opponents for just 145, Brian Thaele walking away with outstanding figures of 5-26 in 13 overs to ensure the first innings win.
In the other results, Northerns clinched a comfortable 98-run win over South Western Districts, while Easterns came out tops over Eastern Province by their first innings score. KZN Coastal and Limpopo also played to a draw in a low-scoring match.
Full scorecard and statistics from the action on day one can be found on www.websports.co.za.