Ngazibini Sigwili struck twice in five balls up front to set up Eastern Province for a comfortable 31-run victory over hosts Griquas in the opening Africa T20 Cup Pool C match at the Diamond Oval on Friday.
The 20-year-old left-arm swing bowler, who was opening the South Africa under-19 attack with Kagiso Rabada two years ago, took the key wickets of Reeza Hendricks and Gerhardt Abrahams who were probably the two batsmen more than any others to get their side across the line.
‘We knew that those two along with Diego Rosier were the key batsmen we had to get rid of early,’ commented Sigwili after the match.
The Eastern Province total of 160 was well within reach, especially after Hendricks hit four boundaries up front. At that stage Griquas were well up to the required rate but they kept on losing wickets and, although they matched Eastern Province with 45 runs in the power play overs, they had lost two more wickets and that proved decisive.
Sigwili finished with the outstanding figures of 2-13 from 3 overs and was well supported particularly by JJ Smuts who finished with 3-15 from his four overs.
The biggest Griqua partnership was the 26 for the sixth wicket which underlined the basic problem of their performance.
In spite of the wide margin of victory the match still had an exciting finish as Griquas managed to scramble a leg bye off the final ball of the match to deny Eastern Province the all-important bonus point.
Griquas followed what has been the convention throughout the tournament of winning the toss and deciding to bowl first. Their decision seemed to be paying off as they restricted Eastern Province to 45 for the loss of JJ Smuts in the power play overs and 83-3 after 13 overs.
But, as always happens, it only needs a handful of balls to change the momentum of T20 cricket and that is precisely what happened as James Price and Kelly Smuts helped themselves to 14 runs off the 14th over. It was the start of a four-over spell in which the two batsmen plundered 59 runs – by far the majority of their 72 run partnership for the fourth wicket that came off 6.2 overs with a run rate of 11.3
Griquas did not help themselves with some careless work in the field which enabled Eastern Province to run a number of two’s on the big outfield that should have been run out opportunities.
The home side managed to pull things back in the last three overs when they only conceded 19 runs and got the key wickets of Price (36 off 21 balls, 3 fours and a six) and Smuts (33 off 23 balls, 3 fours and a six).
Jandre Coetzee took three wickets in his last two overs at a cost of 14 runs with good assistance from Aubrey Swanepoel who took two good catches. Swanepoel’s own figures of four overs for 20 runs were outstanding in their own right and helped restrict Eastern Province to 160 which was a realistic target to chase.