For the second year running Northerns Cricket Club and Western Province met pre-season to contest the Mandela Trophy. Western Province were heavy favorites to defend their crown as champs of South Africa as the division 1 heavy-weights looked to try new things and pummel Northerns.
However Province were shocked....
Game one saw a slick Northerns outfit send Province in to bat. Good move... The Province batsman looked rusty and the side was dismissed before tea on the first day for 197. S Shah was the star with the ball for Northerns taking 5 for 44. Any thoughts of a Western Province fightback were quashed as Northerns piled on 311. Rohan Gavaskar notched up 103 to sign in for season 7 in style and got great support from Raza and Mongia.
Province's second effort was just as bad as their first as they only managed 200. Shah was once again the star taking 4 wickets and 10 for the match. The lowly total set up just 87 for victory and the total was passed just 2 wickets down.
Northerns go 1 up.
All of a sudden the series had a whole new complexion. Western Province were getting a major run for their money and had to play well to save total embaressment. Winning the toss Province nervously decided to bat. This time however the game went to script. The Province batting depth was far stronger and runs were scored all the way down the list. 364 was the end score with Jaques and Iqbal both passing 50 and Khan taking 4 wickets.
Province were then able to take control with the ball also and Northerns were flattened for 147. O Clarke looked at home in the South African conditions taking 4 vital wickets.
Following on things were always going to be tough for Northerns. Province looked back and hungry and they made Northerns pay. A respectable 261 was posted with Mongia being the backbone with 75. Porter however kept things under wraps with 5 wickets. Province then coasted to the required 46 runs only two wickets down.
Series levelled 1-1... On to the decider
Could Northerns pull off one of the biggest upsets in South Africa's cricketing history. After winning the toss Province quickly asserted dominance having Northerns 5-76. However the rescue mission was just starting as Raza steadied the **** with Radford. This partnership was then followed by James coming out and really taking control. He was supported very well down the order as Province were unable to finish the tail off and James made 105. Eventually after Clarke's fifth wicket Northerns were dismissed for 301.
Province began well with 93 being clocked up for the first wicket. However the gutsy Northerns bowling unit rallied hard and cracked the middle order. Provinces next 8 wickets fell for 105 and Iqbal was required to knuckle down with the lower order and get the total up. Eventually after milking the strike succesfully Province fell to be 267 all out and 34 runs behind.
The game was now set up for a cracking finish with Newlands packing itself out, and it was only a pre season game.
Northerns came out determined and commited to chase the dream of defeating their much cockier and higher rated brothers. All batsman made very sound contributions with Orton, Rudolph and once again James passing 50. The Province bowling attack looked tired and un-penetrating, and the Northerns batsman were good enough to dominate. Eventually the visitors were dismissed for 388 setting a mammoth 423 in the final innings.
Things looked set for the Mandela trophy to return to Northerns land... But was their one final twist. A wicket on the first ball of the innings looked to have set the tone. Despite some resistance from the top order Northerns looked comfortable going into the last day. However some very strong and powerful batting came from Province's fringe player Phil Jaques as he posted 117. Province required 100 runs from their last 2 partnerships. The quesiton remained could their highly praised lower order lift themselves. However it was the brilliance of Shah that confirmed one of the greatest cricketing moments in Northerns short history. Northerns had won by 60 runs.
The trophy now has a new name on it... Northerns defeat Western Province 2 games to 1