The Warriors will face the Titans in the One Day Cup final on Friday, after beating the Knights by 18 runs on Monday evening.
It could have been so different for the Knights had the Mangaung Oval pitch been in shape when the match was originally supposed to be completed on Sunday. The Warriors were on 88-3 when play was called due to the pitch being unfit for the play. On Monday, 197 runs were already on the board by the time the third wicket had fallen, as the visitors had enough to strangle their opponents.
It ends what was otherwise a fairytale season for Nicky Boje’s side. After winning the Sunfoil Series, they weren’t expected to go too far in the 50-over format, but an impressive stretch of form at the business end of the group stages got them one match away from the final. That proved one hurdle too much, as the Warriors chase their first One Day Cup title in seven years.
Colin Ingram has been kept relatively quiet throughout the tournament, but he saved one of his best knocks for last, as his 83, amongst a 104-run stand with Gihahn Cloete (60) in 24 overs, was what ultimately separated the sides.
Colin Ackermann chipped in with 37, while brief cameos towards the end, in what saw 23 runs scored off the last two overs, took the side to 249-7, with Sisanda Magala putting the seal on it with a six off the last delivery. The Knights had Marchant de Lange (2-35) to thanks for the the total not blistering past 250.
The Knights simply lacked the firepower at the top of the order to keep themselves ahead of the game. Rudi Second, Tumelo Bodibe and Keegan Petersen aren’t known for their big hitting, and between the three of them, they used up 197 balls for 134 runs.
That’s not to say that Bodibe and Petersen didn’t bat well. Bodibe smacked seven boundaries for his 50-ball 40, and Petersen was there almost through to the end for his 83, but too much rested on David Miller’s shoulders, and when he departed for 52 after being bowled by Andrew Birch, it was all too much for the Central franchise.
Anrich Nortje removed both openers to finish with figures of 2-33, while Birch (2-52) took the important wickets of Miller and skipper Pite van Biljon (11), but it was Ingram’s 83 that earned Man of the Match plaudits, as the Knights finished their allotted overs on 231-6, 18 runs short.
The Warriors will now head over to SuperSport Park to face the Titans on Friday.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images