The touring Pakistan development team ran into a rampant University of Fort Hare-CSA Academy side that showed few signs of pre-season rustiness in blowing the opposition away.
The hosts recorded emphatic wins in both their Twenty20 fixture and 50-over clash at the university’s Krish Mackerdhuj field on Monday and Tuesday.
There was however some consolation for the tourists after they bested Fort Hare’s Forties cricket club by 68 runs in another T20 at the same ground earlier on Monday.
The young Pakistanis are drawn from all parts of their homeland thanks to the Nelson Mandela Talent Hunt, a programme initiated by Majeed Bashir Achmat of the Honorary Council of South Africa in Karachi.
The aim of the project is to give underprivileged youth in that country an equal opportunity to play cricket professionally.
Bearing in mind that these cricketers – one of whom is still only in his early teens – have never played as a team before, registering a victory in foreign conditions is a notable achievement.
Repeating the dose against the Cricket SA-backed Academy proved to be a bridge too far, however.
In Monday afternoon’s T20, Academy bowlers Akhona Ratyana (3 for 5) and Sisonke Mazele (3 for 0) were instrumental in bundling out the visitors for a paltry 61.
The home side then knocked off the runs in 13 overs for the loss of only three wickets.
The 50-over encounter proved a little more challenging as the Academy were forced to knuckle down on a slow pitch that suited the Pakistanis’ spinners and seamers.
Fifties from skipper Lihle Sizani and Siyambonga Nyawose and a quick-fire 36 off 41 balls by Makabongwe Ngcobo eventually saw them posting 202 for 8 after 43 overs.
But, again, it was the Academy’s bowlers to the fore as Ratyana, Hlonela Bune and Lwando Shoba picked up a brace apiece to send the visitors packing for 109.
While the wins might have been comprehensive, coach Burton de Wett said there were many positives for the youngsters from the subcontinent.
“They had really good bowlers in a 14-year-old left-arm wrist-spinner and their seamers. They were tight in their lines and were sharp in the field. They also had three or four good batters.”
Had they played a little more judiciously and not been so aggressive, they could have done better, De Wett opined.
“They didn’t play smart cricket at times.”
But he believed there was more than enough evidence to suggest that they could be knocking on the Pakistan national team’s door in the future.
De Wett said his own side had played some good cricket and it was pleasing to finally be out on the field after a winter of nets and training.
“It’s about taking all we’ve learnt in the winter and putting it into action. Playing games like this is vital to see where we are as a team.”
The outfit’s club season is expected to get underway at the end of the month, but they are also hoping to arrange some fixtures against other cricket academies.
UFH Forties coach Jongile Kilani lamented that his bowling unit had leaked 22 extras in their match against the visitors, though the performance of Afikile Mahlungu, who claimed 2 for 22 in his four overs, had been encouraging.
What most will remember about the game was that the Pakistanis’ batting card was blighted by five runouts, an outcome which Kilani attributed to a fine fielding performance by his charges.
Unfortunately, the Forties were unable to match the 132 for 8 posted by the tourists and everyone except Esona Bokwe (22) fell cheaply. They were all back in the sheds for 64.
But, like De Wett, Kilani was grateful to have had some time out in the middle ahead of the new season.