Hosts Pukke will face defending champions Tuks in the 2017 Varsity Cricket final after defeating the men from Johannesburg by seven wickets in the second semi-final at Senwes Park on Saturday afternoon.
UJ won the toss and elected to bat first at a breezy Senwes Park on Saturday afternoon. The men in orange were off to a strong start, putting up 7/0 in the first over, but Wihan Lubbe, as he has done for his team on so many occasions this week, struck in the second over, trapping the dangerous Ryan Rickelton LBW for just one.
Stefan Klopper stepped to the crease, returning to the park he scored his emphatic century on just two nights ago. But he would have none of the rub of the green, as he chopped on unfortunately, swiping at a wide ball off Jovuan van Wyngaardt and UJ were under pressure early on at 13/2.
Pukke captain Wihan Lubbe got the better of opposing captain Neels Bergh in his second over, rattling the stumps as Bergh departed for a duck and UJ were in even greater trouble at 14/3.
With Delano Potgieter still at the crease, Grant Roelofsen came in and the pair brought calm to the Pukke storm out in the middle. The scoreboard was ticking over slowly, but importantly UJ managed to dry up the leaking of wickets on their scorecard. After nine overs it was 47/3
In the tenth over Roelofsen hit two sixes in succession, stepping it up a couple gears. Potgieter rotated the strike as Roelofsen played more freely at the striker’s end. It was a brilliant recovery by UJ as Roelofsen and Potgieter reached their 100 partnership at the same time Roelofsen reached his 50, taking UJ to 114/3 with four overs remaining. Potgieter reached his 50 three deliveries later.
Pukke eventually got their fourth wicket, Roelofsen caught off the bowling of JP Le Roux at the end of the 18th over. Potgieter hogged the strike at the end, punishing Bantu Dandala as UJ end on 154/6 as he was run out in the final over for 79.
It took just four deliveries for UJ to strike, as Matthew Varner had Wihan Lubbe dragging onto his wickets and the danger man was gone for six. UJ 6/1 early on.
Marques Ackerman joined Janneman Malan at the crease and the loss of their captain seemed to have little impact on their run chase. A couple boundaries by Malan in the third and Ackerman in the fourth set them back on track at 36/1.
Malan was swatting the ball out the air like an unwanted fly, easily finding the ropes as he found his sixth four at the end of the fifth and Pukke were in cruise control at 48/1.
Pukke survived a scare at the end of sixth, as Ackermann chipped the ball in the air and it narrowly fell short of the fielder at mid-off, then both batsmen ended up at the bowler’s end as Malan scrambled back to the striker’s end just in time.
Malan departed for 34 in the ninth, brilliantly caught by Rickelton off the bowling of Stefan Klopper. Pukke reached the halfway mark on 82/2, with Shane Dadswell on four and Ackerman on 36. The hundred came up after 12.3 thanks to a couple boundaries by Dadswell. Pukke needing 54 from 44.
Ackerman reached his 50 with a clip off his legs for four, following it up with a reverse sweep for another boundary and Pukke suddenly needed less than a run a ball at 121/2 after 14.
Dadswell was caught in the deep, going big and fell for 23. They took the Powerplay Plus over in the 16th and scored a sensible 12 off it. Ruan Haasbroek hit a six and a four off Kofi Apea-Adu in the 17th leaving Pukke two to win off the final three overs.
They made it home comfortably, defeating UJ by seven wickets with 14 balls to spare.
Pukke will face UJ in the final at 19:00 at Senwes Park on Saturday.
Samsung Player of the Match: Marques Ackerman (Pukke)
Steers Batsman of the Match: Delano Potgieter (UJ)
FNB Best Bowler of the Match: Wihan Lubbe (Pukke)