In a thrilling, close-run match, the Knights ended the Warriors’ early surge in the Momentum One-Day Cup, winning by 13 runs in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
After two good wins, the Warriors looked to consolidate their place at the top of the log, and that optimism was boosted when they restricted the Knights to 252-5.
But the Knights fought back magnificently, bowling tightly and holding back the Warriors’ surge. Colin Ingram had led the way with a fighting 120 off 135 balls, but the Knights kept the run-rate in check, and when Ingram was dismissed in the 46th over, the Warriors were too far behind.
Rudi Second was the hero of the Knights innings, hammering 135 of his team’s total of 252.
He had to play the headmaster as the wickets tumbled around him. The Knights chose to bat, and the Warriors would have thought it was a good toss to lose when they had taken three wickets for just 43 runs after 17 overs.
Andrew Birch made the initial breakthrough, removing Reeza Hendricks for four, and then Sisanda Magala, with his simple orthodox medium pacers, struck twice to take out Diego Rosier (11) and the experienced Obus Pienaar (3), leaving the Knights reeling.
The impact of Second’s innings was that he maintained a strike rate of 91, showing authority and some flair. Good thing too, because there wasn’t much support, although Patrick Botha played a fine anchoring role, scoring 28 off 39 balls, contributing to a stand of 71 in 15 overs for the fourth wicket.
Tumelo Bodebi helped up the pace with some strong running. he added 31 off 30, in which only two fours were counted. Werner Coetsee, too, coming in for the last 10 overs, also saw the need to accelerate and powered his way to an unbeaten 34 off 26 balls (3×4), helping to put on 93 and creating at least a challenging target.
Second, who knows he must keep scoring big runs if he is to break into Proteas territory behind Quinton de Kock and Dane Vilas, ended with 13 fours among the 146 balls he faced for his third List A hundred from 39 matches.
The Warriors lost Jon-Jon Smuts and Gihahn Cloete for 52 runs, but Ingram and Yaseen Vallie put on 90 runs for the third wicket, setting up a good base after 35 overs. But once Vallie was dismissed for 32 off 55, no one was prepared to pick up the gauntlet.