Another week, another Warriors victory. The Eastern Cape side have maintained their unbeaten run in this season's Pro20 competition and secured a home semi-final by beating the Cobras in Cape Town. The Warriors have four victories under their belts, while no other team from the chasing pack has managed to record more than two wins.
At the opposite end of the table lie the Dolphins, who have lost all of their group stage matches and look as though they may bring some light to their dark days in their match against the Cobras. The Cape side slumped to 44 for 5 in the 12th over before Justin Kemp smashed 59 off 45 balls. He was the only notable contributor to the batting as Kyle Nipper (2 for 10) and Johann Louw (2 for 18) kept the Cobras to 116 for 7. The Dolphins chase saw their hopes of notching up a win sink. Vernon Philander (5 for 17) bowled with venom and was well assisted by Rory Kleinveldt (3 for 23). Only Dave Miller with 26 showed any resistance on a sorry looking batting card. The Cobras bowled the Dolphins out for 102 and earned a 14-run win.
The results were far more decisive for the Eagles, who lost to the Titans by nine wickets in Kimberley. The Eagles put on 125 for 5 against the Titans, with Boeta Dippenaar's 36 off 29 balls the top score. The Titans bowlers shared the wickets between them with Pierre Joubert, David Wiese, Faf du Plessis and Shaun von Berg each claiming one each. Blake Snijman clipped the Eagles wings with a devastating, undefeated 89 off 64 balls as the Titans cruised to victory with 15 balls to spare.
The Eagles took out their frustration three days later, when they played the Cobras in Paarl. Dillon du Preez (3 for 17) became the joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament so far when he removed Andrew Puttick for 15 to peg the Cobras back early. The Cape batsmen all got starts with Stiaan van Zyl, Henry Davids and Justin Kemp making 20, 16 and 24 respectively. Justin Ontong was the only batsmen to step out of the 20s, scoring 37 off 29 balls as the Cobras ended on 137 for 5.
Morne van Wyk soared high for the Bloemfontein based side. His unbeaten 85 off 58 balls, included six fours and four sixes. The Cobras bowlers only had two moments of success: the first when Ontong removed Adrian McLaren for 33 and the other when Philander had Dean Elgar caught for 15. The Eagles won with four balls to spare, to keep their semi-final hopes in flight.
Another side that also has a chance at the last four is the Lions who took advantage of an inexperienced Dolphins side, who, during the course of the week, terminated the contracts of five senior players. In Potchefstroom, the Lions had immediate success when Cameron Delport fell to Ethan O'Reilly for a duck. Then Ahmed Amla was trapped in front by Robbie Frylink, who shared the top bowling honours with du Preez, for 4 and Dale Benkenstein for 0. The Dolphins were 8 for 3 before Dave Miller performed lifesaver-like heroics.
His 90 off 52 balls propelled him to third highest on the competition's batting rankings and added some respectability to the Dolphins scorecard. They ended on a competitive 159 for 5. Neil McKenzie (46 off 42 balls) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (40 off 29 balls) were the backbone of the Lions' innings. Although neither were there at the end, the Lions were untroubled by the Dolphins bowlers and won with five balls to spare. The match between the Eagles and the Lions on Sunday is effectively a quarter-final, with the team that wins going through to the last four.
The best was saved for last, in Port Elizabeth.The Warriors scored the highest total this week - 172 for 9 - an indication of the authority they have in the competition so far. Colin Ingram, who tops the batting rankings, only scored five but Justin Kreush and Davy Jacobs were on hand. Kreusch scored 61 off 45 balls and the captain chipped in with 56 off 30 balls as they flayed the Cobras bowling. Monde Zondeki (2 for 21) and Vernon Philander (2 for 29) were the most successful of the snakes.
The experience of Nicky Boje (3 for 10) spearheaded the Warriors' attack, although it was Garnet Kruger (2 for 35) who took the first wicket. Puttick was out early again, this time for 19. Stiaan van Zyl (29 off 17 balls) also fell to Kruger before the Boje blitz began. After he removed Kemp, Rory Klienveldt and Henry Davids, the meat was taken off the Cobras batting bones. They ended on 153 for 8, 19 runs short of the target. Despite the loss, the Cobras are into the semis, along with the Titans and the Warriors.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg