Warriors 181 for 4 (Jacobs 74, Prince 64, Noema-Barnett 2-28) beat Central Districts 175 for 3 (How 88*, Noema-Barnett 53*, Botha 1-16) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Davey Jacobs continued his sparkling run of form, lashing 74 against Central Districts' limited attack, as Warriors chased down 176 with surprising ease in their third victory in three games. Jamie How powered Central Districts to a strong total with another display of measured aggression, but Jacobs, supported by Ashwell Prince who made 64, ensured it was completely overshadowed.
Jacobs has a ruthless Plan A: he stays deep in the crease, gets beside the line and uncorks his wrists late to whiplash boundaries through the off side. He had used it to pulverise Victoria in the previous game and began in similar fashion today as Michael Mason's first two balls pinged the off-side boundary. Adam Milne went in the same direction in the next over, forcing Central Districts to correct their lines. Jacobs then unveiled Plan B, and it was even more efficient: instead of getting beside the line, he moved across his stumps to get inside the line. In the process, middle-stump yorkers were converted into leg-stump half-volleys, and leg-side fielders into ball retrievers.
In the fourth over from Doug Bracewell, Jacobs repeatedly walked across to smear deliveries angling into him - twice along the ground and twice over the ropes. In the next over, Prince got going as well, launching Milne over wide long-on. How was forced to bring on his spinner George Worker within the Powerplay. No luck there either. His first ball was miscued by Prince over the infield for four more. Peter Ingram's horrors continued as he followed his duck earlier in the day with a drop when Prince tried to clear long-on, as Warriors looted 65 in the Powerplay.
The lifting of restrictions had no impact on either batsman - if anything, they seemed more intent on hitting sixes now that there were fielders to evade in the outfield. Both of them indulged on length offerings from Worker to pick sixes beyond midwicket, and Jacobs hoisted the hapless Bracewell for six more over fine-leg. Milne tried going back to an off-stump line, but now nothing seemed to matter. Jacobs teed off across the line, the ball landed over long-on, and Central Districts seemed to have made their peace with an early exit from the tournament.
So much so, that they were caught napping even when Warriors lost their way somewhat towards the end. Prince kept top-edging attempted scoops and fielders kept finding themselves too far away to get under them. Jacobs holed out in the 16th over, Colin Ingram lost his stumps in the 17th, and Prince perished in the 18th. Warriors had given Central Districts an opening, but no one seemed intent to push through. Instead, they served up a platter of length balls which Craig Thyssen and Mark Boucher tucked into greedily to finish the game.
One had to feel for How, who overcame another failure from Ingram at the top, and a stifling period of play against spin, to lift his side to a more-than-defendable score. He began in a manner that suggested he had never left the crease following his blitz against Victoria. Rusty Theron tried the full outswinger and two sucker balls outside off in the second over of the day, all of which were dismissed for boundaries. In the third, Lonwabo Tsotsobe was punched down the ground, driven through the covers and edged to third man for three more fours. Then came the shot of the afternoon, as Makhaya Ntini tried to cramp How with a bouncer and saw it vanish into the midwicket stands. Brad Patton joined in the fun at the other end as the Powerplay had gone for 63 runs, but Warriors had two exceptional spinners at their disposal.
Nicky Boje and Johan Botha controlled the next passage of six overs, hustling out two wickets and conceding just 21. It proved decisive on a day when seamers from both sides went for plenty. However, the tandem spin operation meant Warriors did not have much variety in their attack for the end overs. How and Kieran Noema-Barnett cashed in by setting themselves up against predictable lengths.
In the previous game, How had smashed 26 runs off the 18th over; today he chose to take off an over earlier. Theron was the target this time as How inside-edged an incisive yorker, drilled a length ball through Tsotsobe's hands to the midwicket boundary and launched a slower ball over square leg, in an over that bled 20 runs. Noema-Barnett then took centrestage against Ntini, who looked out of place bowling the last over. A length ball landed beyond midwicket; a half-volley was thumped over long-off, and a full toss was guided through point.
At that point, Central Districts seemed to have done enough for a first win in the tournament. Unfortunately for them, their bowlers were about to let them down once again.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo