Easterns captain Grant Thomson hailed the all-round efforts of his team, saying the players made him very proud after they won the inaugural CSA Provincial T20 title on Tuesday.
The Benoni-based team, who were hosting the play-off rounds, edged out the Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Inland by five runs in a tense Heritage Day final at Willowmoore Park.
Batting first, Wesley Marshall thrashed a career-best 87 off 53 balls (9 fours, 2 sixes) balls to help the home side amass a strong 178 for six, before restricting the away side to 173 for four in reply.
Easterns could have scored over 200 the way Marshall was going, but they were pegged back later in their innings by the men from Pietermaritzburg.
“We’re very happy with the win I think most probably we were about 20 runs short in the end there,” Thomson said. “Their guys bowled superbly well at the death making life very tough for us.
“But all credit to my guys, I think we kept believing and we kept pushing all the way through to the finish.
“It was a helluva effort by the guys and credit to KZN Inland as well, who played a great game. It’s just unfortunate for them that they didn’t get over the line.”
Marshall was aided by fellow opener Yaseen Vallie (47) – the two men racing out of the blocks to reach 118 for none in the 12th over – with Kerwin Mungroo (3/25) and Michael Booth (0/26) instrumental in pulling things back.
KZNI could have also won the game thanks to Grant Roelofsen’s own highest score of 79 off 58 balls (4 fours, 4 sixes) and 48 by Cody Chetty that helped put on a century opening stand.
But they were pegged back in the decisive part of the chase by Dyllan Matthews (1/23), Imraan Manack (1/32) and Matthew Arnold (1/40).
“It’s the nature of T20 cricket that the result can go either way until the end,” Thomson added. “That’s exactly what happened here, and it was a great spectacle, it was an excellent game, an excellent final and great end to the competition.
“To see the crowd out here and the atmosphere they created was great, so look I’m just really privileged to be part of a great game and in a final like that too to have a performance like that as a team and to see individuals step up like that at key moments.
“I’m just so proud of the boys.”
Thomson added that there was a burning desire to win the competition as soon as they learnt where the finals would be played after the conclusion of the opening rounds.
“That’s 100 per cent correct we said before the weekend we wanted to win the trophy in front of our home crowd, so I’m actually lost for words,” he concluded. “We’re going to enjoy these celebrations long and hard.”