EASTERN Province new-ball bowler Sisanda Magala picked up two wickets late in the afternoon to give his team a slight edge after the opening day of their CSA Provincial Challenge three-day cricket fixture against Griqualand West at Union yesterday.
After losing the toss, the visitors did well to restrict a strong EP batting line-up to 263, but they will have to show equal determination with the bat today to keep the home side at bay.
Once he had won the toss, EP captain Colin Ackermann could not have had much hesitation in deciding to bat and while there were promising signs from most of the batsmen, the home line-up again failed to hit their straps.
Most of them made decent starts, but there was nothing substantial and only Jon-Jon Smuts passed the 50-mark, with a fluent 73 off 121 balls.
The opener was seldom troubled by the Griquas attack and looked capable of doing damage to the visitors before a brilliant, instinctive caught and bowled by skipper Alan Kruger removed that danger and EP never threatened to take control.
There were twenties from Michael Smith and Peter Furstenburg, and Warren Bell again weighed in with a useful knock of 38 lower down the order.
Smith and Smuts added 64 for the second wicket but once Smith went shortly after lunch, EP wickets fell at regular intervals.
Lonwabo Rodolo (3/41) and Aubrey Swanepoel (3/31) did most of the damage, while former EP player Deon Carolus picked up two for 55.
In Oudtshoorn, a third-wicket stand of 190 by skipper Ross McMillan and Glen Addicott helped South Western Districts into a decent position at the close of their opening day against Gauteng.
Although there was not much else to speak of in the SWD batting, the efforts of McMillan and Addicott saw the home side total 339 in their first innings, to which Gauteng replied with three for nought in two overs at the end of play.
McMillan and Addicott came together at 49 for two and handled everything Gauteng could throw at them for the next 52 overs.
McMillan was at the crease for 4½ hours and struck 14 fours and two sixes in his knock of 125 off 213 deliveries, while Addicott batted for just over five hours in making 145 off 230 balls.
SWD will be looking for quick wickets today as they attempt to stay in contention for the title. Although they are eighth on the log, the Southern Cape side have two matches in hand and can still make an impact.