Warriors fall short in final chase

Defiant attack came from Jon-Jon Smuts of the Warriors during the CSA T20 Challenge final match against Highveld Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Defiant attack came from Jon-Jon Smuts of the Warriors during the CSA T20 Challenge final match against Highveld Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Image: Gallo Images/ Gordon Arons

A fighting 121 by skipper Jon-Jon Smuts was not enough for the Warriors, who were all out for 192, chasing the imposing target of 204 set for them by the Lions in the CSA Twenty20 Challenge final played at the Wanderers on Sunday.

It was a sad ending for the Eastern Cape franchise who had done so well to reach the final of the competition.

Smuts simply did not have the support he needed.

Only Onke Nyaku with 27 – the two added 73 for the sixth wicket – was able to get among the runs for the Warriors, other than Smuts.

Spinner Bjorn Fortuin at the start of the innings broke through with three quick wickets and at one stage the Warriors were battling on 56 for five wickets before Nyaku managed to stay with Smuts.

The Warriors were virtually on target until the 17th over when they dipped behind the asking rate.

Earlier a maiden T20 century from Temba Bavuma and a record third-wicket partnership of 165 with Rassie van der Dussen enabled the Highveld Lions to post 203 for four in their innings.

After being invited to bat the Lions got off to the start they did not need. The home side’s strategy was plain to see: target the captain Smuts, and Ryan Rickelton duly obliged striking 11 runs off Smuts’s first over.

However, Andrew Birch struck with the first delivery of the second over with Smuts taking a sharp catch at short mid-wicket accounting for Reeza Hendricks.

The fifth over saw the usually resolute Rickelton on his way. He tried to pull a short delivery from Sibanda Magala, but found the top edge and sent it skyward where wicketkeeper Sinethemba Queshile, running back, took an awkward catch.

Both openers were back in the dressing room with only 30 runs on the board.

The revival was inspired by Bavuma and Van der Dussen with their partnership.

Bavuma’s sixth T20 half-century came of 37 balls and his maiden century with four boundaries and one six.

He scored 104 off 63 balls (11x4, 2x6) before falling to Birch.

Van der Dussen’s 50 was a tad quicker, 29 balls, with three fours and three sixes.

Alas, Van der Dussen’s innings came to a an end with his score on 73 (41 balls), trying to clear the ropes off Birch he was caught at long-on by Onke Nyaku.

Birch finished with 3/36.

After the dust had settled the Warriors’ Smuts’s figures were not what he would have hoped for: 4-0-35-0.

But compared to Sithembile Langa’s figures it was a drop in the ocean: 4-0-69-0, the most expensive in the domestic T20 competition, beating that of Titans’ Junior Dala in Benoni in 2016/17 against the Knights – 57 in four overs.

Fortuin was named as Bowler of the Match while Bavuma grabbed the Batsman of the Match award. – SuperSport.com