• Birch stars as Warriors thump Dolphins

    Andrew Birch took 4-15 as the Warriors defeated the Dolphins by nine wickets to all but qualify for the Momentum One Day Cup playoffs.

    The Warriors’ position in the playoffs was under threat after losing to the Knights on the weekend, but the huge victory on Wednesday means they have now moved up to second, 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Titans, who have two matches remaining. The Dolphins, rooted to the bottom of the standings, now mathematically have no chance with one game left.

    It was a crushing victory at Kingsmead in a match that the visitors were on top of from start to finish. The Dolphins even won the toss, but Birch was unstoppable, combining movement off the surface with deadly accuracy to finish with amazing figures of 4-15 from his allotted overs, bowling all the way through in a spell that included five maidens.

    Vaughn van Jaarsveld was his first victim, trapping him lbw with the second ball of the match. Basheeru-Deen Walters, in contrast, finished with 2-59 from eight overs, but he got the second wicket as Cody Chetty fell for just three. A single that wasn’t there saw Ryan McLaren run out for four.

    Morne van Wyk provided the only real fight, but he would sky one for 20, before 45-4 turned into 47-7 as the middle order crumbled, thanks to Birch.

    Kesh Maharaj saw his side reach three figures as he scored a valiant 43 not out, before Ayabulela Gqamane took the final wicket as the Dolphins were skittled for 110.

    Colin Ackermann and JJ Smuts, with the pressure off, peeled off the runs with embarrassing ease, as Smuts set the tone with 14 in the very first over. From there the run rate hovered around the five an over mark as the pair settled in. Ackermann notched up a half-century, but Smuts, to his frustration, was caught in the deep one short of the milestone. The target was eventually dealt with inside 24 overs.

    The bonus-point victory means they’ve got a foot in the playoffs, but they will hope to beat the Cape Cobras in their final group fixture to increase their chances of a home semi-final.


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