WPCC fend off United attack in first of two clashes

WPCC's Tyla Scarles was in fine form, hitting 70 on his club debut.

On an overcast morning at Western Province Cricket Clubs’s (WPCC) Wally Wilson Oval, United skipper Amaar Dilraj won the toss and put WPCC in to bat in their Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) Reserve A two-day fixture.

WPCC got off to a strong start, with wicketkeeper-batsman Benji Schaffer and club debutant Tyla Scarles putting on 121 for the first wicket in only 19.1 overs, before Schaffer was adjudged LBW off the bowling of Yudjheet Barua, falling 13 runs short of his century.

Scarles was joined at the crease by South African under-19 player Jesse Christensen and the two added 74 for the second wicket before Scarles popped a return catch to Faheem Adonis, scoring a fine 70 on his club debut.

The United bowling pair of Adonis and Shameen Cole then fought back and restricted the flow of runs, with only 19 runs being scored off the next 51 balls.

Their hard work paid off when Reece Conrad, struggling with form, was caught having scored only 2, but Christensen, Oliver Osborn and Shawn Dyson weathered the storm and ensured that WPCC had a strong finish to their innings, with 58 runs scored off the last five overs of the innings.

When the compulsory 60 over declaration came, WPCC finished on an imposing 321-4. United’s cause was not helped by some indifferent fielding, with numerous catching opportunities missed.

In response, United suffered an early setback with Yusuf Abrahams being dismissed in the fourth over, but Adonis and Ilyaas Damonse dug in and attempted to lay a foundation.

The WPCC bowlers, however, managed to dry up the flow of runs, and the frustration began to show with tempers flaring on the field.

WPCC broke through in the first over after tea, Adonis edging WP Academy bowler Grant McCarthy to Schaffer. United captain Amaar Dilraj led the fight on a flattening surface, but the WPCC bowlers were miserly in their economy and took wickets through sheer attrition.

With 10 overs remaining before their compulsory declaration, United were still 179 runs adrift and all attention shifted to whether United would be able to reduce their deficit to under 100 and thereby avoid the follow-on in time.

Dilraj and Brent Paterson duly attempted to do so – the latter hitting three consecutive sixes off WPCC captain Ian Hopton – but when Dilraj departed in the 58th over in desperately unlucky circumstances (a ball from medium-pacer Dyson having ricocheted off Schaffer’s keeping pads and into the stumps with Dilraj out of his ground), United’s innings fizzled out.

Play ended for the day on United’s compulsory 60 over declaration, with their score on 204/6, still trailing by 117 runs and with a mountain to climb in their follow-on innings on Day 2, to be played on Saturday November 19.

Kieron Thwaites is a member of WPCC.