A majestic batting display by Matthew Breetzke underpinned the Warriors’ 21-run triumph over the Eastern Cape Iinyathi at the Kimberley Oval on Wednesday.
The thrilling victory secured second spot in Pool D for the Gqeberha-based team and their place in the T20 Knock Out quarter-finals that get under way from Tuesday, 19 October.
After the Warriors won the toss and elected to bat first, Breetzke and his opening partner Wihan Lubbe (29) began with good intent and controlled aggression at the crease, striking the ball to all parts of the ground at more than 10 runs an over.
The pair put on 79 runs for the first wicket, aided by extra deliveries from the bowling side, with Breetzke bringing up his third consecutive fifty in the tournament in another half-century partnership with Jon Jon Smuts (21).
The 22-year old’s knock of 80 off 46 balls featured incredible 360-degree strokeplay, dispatching nine fours and four sixes as he claimed the No 1 spot in the tournament’s run-scoring chart with 190 runs at a strike rate of 163.79.
After his eventual departure and with the score on a healthy 138-2 after 12.5 overs, Diego Rosier (33) and promising middle-order batter Tristan Stubbs (46) made sure the Warriors kept their foot on the pedal.
They added 79 runs together in 33 balls for the fourth wicket, with the Warriors ending on a daunting 225-5 after 20 overs.
With the Iinyathi needing 229 runs to upset their Division One opponent and win a place in the next round, Tiaan van Vuuren (1-40) removed danger man Marco Marais (4) in the first over.
The difficult start was compounded by the cheap loss of wickets in the middle order, with opener and wicketkeeper-batter Mncedisi Malika (42) anchoring the chase before he was the last wicket to fall in the 11th over.
That was because of an explosive and courageous partnership worth 125 runs between captain Jerry Nqolo, who brought up his third T20 fifty, and Clayton Bosch.
Bosch’s maiden T20 half-century (64* off 26 balls; seven fours, four sixes) and Nqolo’s unbeaten 26-ball 58 (five fours, four sixes) provided the Iinyathi with some hope going into the latter stages of the innings as they smashed the ball to the boundary with regularity.
Despite the onslaught faced by the Warriors’ bowling attack, they had the contribution of their batters earlier in the afternoon to thank, as Iinyathi fell short in their pursuit and succumbed to defeat.
Smuts bagged two wickets for 48 runs, while Mthiwekhaya Nabe (1-39) and Glenton Stuurman (1-41) both chipped in with a scalp apiece.
T20 Knock Out action resumes on Friday when Pool C gets going at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein. The pool features the Dolphins, North West Dragons, Eastern Storm and SA U19s.