Unbeaten Warriors surge to top of table
The Warriors are wrestling their way through the Pro20 competition like the fighters they are supposed to represent. They've won all three of their matches and have secured a place in the semi-finals. In the past week, it's been the Dolphins and the Lions who have suffered at the hands of the Eastern Cape side.
Arno Jacobs' 54 off 51 balls against the Dolphins in Durban set the tone last Sunday. Jon-Jon Smuts opened the batting with Jacobs and together the pair put on 70 runs in the first half of the innings. Smuts scored 43 off 31 balls. The Warriors middle order all chipped in, with Colin Ingram slamming 32 off 15 balls as they totalled 162 for five.
The Dolphins' reply was punctuated with wickets. Big-hitters Loots Bosman and Andrew Hall both made just 10. Imraan Khan, Ahmed Amla and Dale Benkenstein kept the Dolphins' heads above water with 45, 31 and 21 respectively. The remaining five who batted scored a miserable 13 runs between them. Rusty Theron, Makhaya Ntini, Lyall Meyer and Nicky Boje each claimed two wickets as the Dolphins ended on 139 for 8, 23 runs short.
On the same day, the Titans beat the Cobras by 17 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in a stormy Centurion. Gulam Bodi was the mainstay for the home side with an aggressive 88 off 44 balls. Thirteen boundaries came off Bodi's bat, including seven fours and six sixes. The Titans faced 12 overs and ran up a total of 136 for one.
The Cobras were pegged back early when they lost Andrew Puttick and Henry Davids. Herschelle Gibbs looked set for heroics, making 48 off 28 balls. When he was dismissed by Pierre Joubert for 48 off 28 balls, the Cobras were 84 for 4 with 22 balls remaining. Two wickets from Albie Morkel restricted the Cape side to 122 for 6 in their 12 overs.
The Dolphins suffered their second defeat in three days when they lost to the Eagles by 13 runs in Durban. They bowled well to restrict the Eagles to 152 for 9. Morne van Wyk (62 off 43 balls) and Boeta Dippenaar (30 off 25 balls) were the only significant contributors to the Eagles' total. Johann Louw was the best Dolphins' bowler, taking 3 for 27.
In reply, the Dolphins began well. Bosman smashed 38 off 21 balls, Khan hit 30 off 29 and Amla 43 off 35. The rest of the order, were abysmal - the other seven batsmen scored 25 runs between them. Johan van der Wath took 3 for 27, but it was Dillon du Preez's three wickets in four balls that sank the Dolphins. They lie at the bottom of the log, with no victories in three matches.
Also on Wednesday, the Lions had their first taste of success of in the competition, when they beat the Titans by four wickets in Centurion. Robert Frylinck struck in the first over, getting rid of Blake Snijman for 8. Then, Ethan O'Reilly continued to make early inroads into the Titans batting order removing Faf du Plessis for a duck and Bodi for 7. The Titans found themselves in the unfamiliar position of 26 for 3 in the third over. Jacques Rudolph's half century and Heino Kuhn's 32 rescued the Titans and they ended on a defendable 145 for 5.
This time though, their bowlers could not defend the total, despite, Ethy Mbhalati's 4 for 20, which included the wickets of Neil McKenzie and Vaughn van Jaarsveld. Dane Vilas' 53 off 37 balls, supported by Zander de Bruyn's 39 off 34 balls, guided the Lions to victory with eight balls to spare.
The Johannesburg boys couldn't follow it up with another win. The Lions lost to the Warriors by five wickets on Friday at the Wanderers. Things didn't start well for them as McKenzie and Johnathan Vandiar went early but Van Jaarsveld was magnificent, scoring 72 off 51 balls. No one else contributed with the bat against containing bowling from Kruger (2 for 31), Ntini (2 for 31) and Meyer (2 for 23). The Lions racked up 155 for nine.
They looked well set to defend that score when Frylinck removed Jacobs and Smuts early on. The Warriors were on a shaky 15 for 2 on the first ball of the third over, but Colin Ingram was on hand. The competition's top scorer (175 runs at an average of 58.33) was bruising in scoring his 82 off 52 balls. He was eventually bowled by O'Reilly but had already set the Warriors up to win. Captain Davey Jacobs was there at the end, unbeaten on 32.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg