CAPE TOWN – A blistering 91-run unbroken partnership between Jon-Jon Smuts and Sinethemba Qeshile ended any lingering doubts by the Warriors, and helped them seize a pivotal six-wicket victory over the Cape Cobras in their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter at Newlands on Thursday.
Defeat for the log-leading hosts, coupled by the Highveld Lions winning the Jukskei derby against the Titans, threw the title race wide open.
With two rounds remaining, the Cobras, whose first-innings batting display was their let-down at Newlands, saw their near 20-point advantage slashed to just over one-and-a-half following a crucial loss against the impressive Warriors.
The Eastern Cape franchise started the final day on 109/3, needing a further 97 for victory.
They were dealt an early blow when Lesiba Ngoepe became the fourth victim of Dane Piedt (4/68) to leave the away side on 115/4.
That strike would have given the home side hope, but Smuts and Qeshile put their foot on the gas to take the game away from the Cobras.
The pair scored at 6.42 to the over as they finished the game in a further 14.1 overs.
RESULT! - @WarriorsCrickEC wrap up a 6 wicket win over @CobrasCricket without too much fuss. 206/4 . Qeshile gets his 50 at less than run-a-ball, skipper Smuts unbeaten on 70. Massive effort! Well done team!! #4DaySeries #StrengthInDiversity— The Warriors (@WarriorsCrickEC) January 17, 2019
The captain ended unbeaten on 70 off 73 balls (10x4, 1x6), while young Qeshile plundered 50 off 49 deliveries (9x4) to complete a commanding win.
The result also kept alive the Warriors' slim title hopes – they are now just over 27 points behind the leaders.
Cricket South Africa