WITH the rain mercifully holding off somewhat this week, Eastern Province will be aiming to make up for lost ground when they host Boland in the CSA Provincial three-day competition, starting at Axxess St George's today (10am).
Groundsman Adrian Carter said the conditions should be fine for the three-day encounter, provided the rain held off and there were no overcast conditions.
Yesterday's sunny, windy weather would have helped the pitch to dry out further, although Carter expects the pace to be quite slow due to moisture below the surface.
Colin Ackermann's team opened their campaign with a convincing win over KZN Inland and they were looking good against KwaZulu-Natal last weekend when rain ended proceedings. EP go into the match five points behind logleaders Western Province, although the Cape side have played one more game.
Boland, who had a tied match against Border this season, lie in third position on 21 points, four behind EP, so this game shapes up as an interesting encounter.
EP's aim will be to replicate their opening match against KZN Inland when their batsmen, led by Michael Smith's 155, set up the 10-wicket victory by creating a big first innings lead. With players like Ackermann, Arno Jacobs, David White and James Price to back up Smith, coach Christo Esau will be looking for a similar onslaught so they can unleash their attack on the Bolanders.
Teenage fast bowler Solomzi Nqweni caught the eye last week with a career-best seven-wicket haul against KZN and while there are sure to be some ups and downs for him at this developmental stage of his career, his performance will be keenly watched.
Boland will be no pushovers and they will be looking to boost themselves on the log.
The three-day game will be followed by a limited overs encounter on Sunday.
The EP team is: Colin Ackermann (captain), Warren Bell, Siviwe Gidana, Arno Jacobs, Sisanda Magala, Solomzi Nqweni, James Price, Michael Smith, David White, Leroy Walters, Lionel Vaaltyn, Phumzile Yiba, Ntladi Bukako.