The Warriors will return to
The Warriors’ 249/7 proved to be enough for an 18-run victory at the Mangaung Oval as the Knights fell short to end on 231/6 in their 50 overs.
It is the second time that the Warriors and Titans will meet in the final of a competition this summer, after the latter won a closely-fought match to conclude the T20 Challenge in December.
With 73 runs required off the last 10 overs, and Miller – who was dropped twice earlier – in control, it should have been a cakewalk for the home team.
But Warriors skipper Jon-Jon Smuts gambled by keeping his senior fast bowler Andrew Birch on despite the two Knights batsmen having attacked him earlier, and that gamble paid rich dividends when Birch bowled Miller for 52 (66 balls, 5x4) to end the 41st over.
That ultimately proved to be the defining moment in the match as the Warriors restricted the Knights to just 51 runs off the next 54 balls, with seamers Basheer Walters (1/36) and Sisanda Magala (0/46) showing good ‘death’ bowling skills.
Petersen couldn’t get on strike enough in that period and eventually fell to a nifty boundary catch by Colin Ackermann after scoring 83 (117 balls, 5x4).
The pitch, which was deemed unfit on Sunday and led to the match being abandoned after 28 overs, proved to be much more consistent in terms of its bounce, even if that bounce was low.
The slow pace of the surface made shot-making difficult too.
Smuts won the toss again and as on Sunday chose to bat, with the Warriors batsmen showing great care as they set about building a target.
The early loss of Smuts – who took over from Henry Davids as the competition’s leading run-scorer – in the seventh over forced both Gihahn Cloete and Colin Ingram to bat with circumspection, although Cloete had more trouble rotating the strike than his more experienced teammate.
Nevertheless as a combination, the pair played well adding 104 for the second wicket at about four runs an over.
Cloete’s innings of 60 (103 balls, 5x4, 1x6) was a workmanlike effort, low on style but high on grit.
Ingram was the quicker scorer, better able to locate the gaps in the field, and when the occasion warranted he found the boundary, on two occasions sending the ball directly over the ropes.
His innings of 83 (97 balls, 7x4, 2x6) gave the Warriors’ innings the necessary impetus it needed.
Marchant de Lange was the best of the Knights’ bowlers, with his pace and bounce proving uncomfortable for the visiting batsmen.
He finished with 2/35, while Dillon du Preez, Shadley van Schalkwyk and Mbulelo Budaza finished with a wicket apiece.Independent Media