Paarl Gymnasium edge Paarl RPC in exciting Momentum Friendship Games opener
The Standard Bank Paarl Regional Performance Centre (RPC) went down by four wickets in a low-scoring thriller in the Momentum Friendship Games season-opening clash against Paarl Gymnasium at the Parys Sports Grounds in Paarl on Friday.
Werner Brand (31) and Benjamin Calitz (32*) shone with the bat as Paarl Gymnasium chased down the Paarl RPC’s first innings total of 102/7 to secure a hard-fought win over the Cape Winelands side despite valiant efforts from Nathan Jacobs and Kiano Valentine with bat and ball, respectively.
The Friendship Games is an important initiative that represents the core values shared by partners, Momentum and Cricket South Africa (CSA). The campaign consists of nine thrilling contests with traditional cricketing schools pitted against the promising, previously disadvantaged cricketers that form part of CSA’s respective RPC and Hubs structures.
The Paarl RPC won the toss and elected to bat first, getting off to what looked like a solid start through openers Lathitha Plaatjies (7) and Bongo Nginingini (3) before the Paarl Gym youngsters made crucial inroads to leave the home side 36/3 after 7 overs. The talented Jacobs proved his worth as he recorded an important 45-ball 35 that included two sixes and a four to help propel his side to a competitive score in their allotted 20 overs.
Gymnasium’s Arno Marais finished as his side’s leading wicket-taker with two scalps for just 12 runs in his four overs.
In reply, the Paarl Gymnasium outfit also got off to a sluggish start thanks to a fantastic bowling spell from right-arm off-spinner, Valentine, who picked up three early wickets. At 38 for four, Calitz was joined by wicket-keeper batsman, Brand as the pair partnered up for an all-important 50-run stand to help steady the ship and keep their side on track for the victory.
Calitz and Brand top-scored for their sides with scores contributions of 31 and 32*, respectively, with the latter remaining unbeaten to carry his side over the line with 13 balls to spare.
Valentine finished with impressive figures of three for 19 in four overs as Gymnasium notched up the first victory of the season for the school teams.
The Momentum Friendship Games will next visit the Eastern Cape for the second instalment, with the Standard Bank Alice RPC taking on Selborne College at the Fort Hare University in Alice.
Standard Bank Paarl RPC – 101/7 after 20 overs
N. Jacobs 35 (45), L. Plaatjies 7 (14); A. Marais 2/12
Paarl Gymnasium – 102/6 after 17.5 overs
W. Brand 32* (30), B. Calitz 31 (35); K. Valentine 3/19