Clinical Warriors charge into final
Warriors 175 for 6 (Jacobs 61, Ingram 46, Harris 3-16) beat South Australia 145 for 7 (Ferguson 71, Tsotsobe 2-16) by 30 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Warriors owned this Centurion night. The batting defined purpose at the start: Davy Jacobs and Colin Ingram unleashed hell in the Powerplay and allowed the middle-order to soak up the inevitable pressure exerted by the slow men in the middle overs. Then the tail finished strongly. Warriors were 77 for 1 from seven overs, reached 128 for 4 in 16, when the tail wagged in style to push them to a strong total. The perfect script reached its climax when their spinners Johan Botha and Nicky Boje choked the chase after Lonwabo Tsotsobe left South Australia gasping for breath by removing their in-form openers in the fourth over.
The script had its moments of drama. South Australia had given the second over to a spinner Aaron O'Brien. It made sense. The pitch appeared as it was raked before the start; it looked dry and withering. It was obvious that spin was the way to go. It took one aggressive move by Ingram to upset the plan, though. Ingram rushed down the track to the third delivery of the over and smacked it to the straight boundary. Immediately O'Brien pushed it through shorter. Mistake. Ingram pulled one for a six and cut the other for a four and Warriors had moved to 20 for 1 from two overs. It was the beginning of a ferocious assault.
The game lurched forward even more dramatically in the next over. It was Jacobs v Tait and we had a clear winner. Jacobs's batsmanship is simple: a cocked wrist that snaps late to unleash violence, and tonight it was Tait who copped it. Jacobs unfurled a peach of a straight drive and followed it up his trademark shuffle-and-explode move: He moved across the stumps, waited back inside the crease and whipped a 151 kmph full delivery over square-leg for an outrageous six. He moved across again and dragged the next ball past mid-on for another boundary, and Warriors were truly up and away. When Daniel Christian bowled an over of tripe with three overpitched deliveries on the legs - all of which were put away for boundaries by Jacobs - the score read 77 for 1 from 7 overs.
South Australia's slow men - O'Brien, Cullen Bailey, the legspinner, and Daniel Harris, the mediumpacer so ideal for this track - kept them in the game by picking three wickets for only 51 runs in the next nine overs. You wondered then, if this trio can cause this much damage, what would Botha and Boje do later?
Boje's first blow of the day came with the bat, though. He mowed Christian in the final over for two sixes and unfurled a smart sweep to pick up another boundary. And when Justin Kreusch smote the final delivery beyond the long-on boundary, the crowd grew delirious. They could sense that it could be a special night. It was.
South Australia must have fretted about playing spin on this track but it was the seamer Tsotsobe who stunned them with a double strike in the fourth over of the chase. Both the Redbacks' openers, especially Michael Klinger, are extremely strong on the off side and so, Tsotsobe tied them by bringing the ball back into the middle stump.
Both perished to weak on-side shots. Harris top-edged an intended pull and Klinger flicked lamely to midwicket. And when Botha and Boje came on with their strangulation acts, the chase petered out. Ferguson played a few big hits in the end but the fight had long evaporated into the Centurion night. The home crowd lapped it up with great delight. Right through the game, they kept chanting, "Let's go Warriors, let's go". It felt as if one was back at the Warriors' den at St George's park in Port Elizabeth.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo