The Chevrolet Warriors held their nerve to claim victory with one ball remaining over defending Momentum One Day Cup champions Unlimited Titans in a high-scoring affair at Centurion on Friday.
The Titans posted a challenging 327-4 as Grant Thomson struck an impressive 98 not out, and it looked like they were heading towards victory for large portions of the Warriors’ run chase, but Simon Harmer and Andrew Birch produced vital cameos late on to ultimately get the Eastern Cape franchise over the line.
The Warriors sent the Titans in to bat, and the decision appeared vindicated at first as skipper Henry Davids and wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle struggled to hit their straps at the top of the order. Davids would be the first to go for 20 thanks to Andrew Birch, before a 46-run stand between Mosehle and Theunis de Bruyn settled the nerves for the hosts.
De Bruyn found the boundary easy to come by, striking five boundaries before he knicked one to Clyde Fortuin for 26. Mosehle pushed on in measured fashion, but would fall one short of a fifth List A half century, Simon Harmer – due to join up with the Proteas for the Test series – the man to get him.
What then followed was two devastating partnerships, both involving promising all-rounder Grant Thomson, as the run rate steadily increased before an onslaught in the final 10 overs. Dean Elgar (57) and Thomson put on 87 in 74 balls. Qaasim Adams and Thomson would then smash 117 in the last 10 overs to lift the side from Pretoria to 327-4. Thomson would finish two runs short of a maiden List A century, while Adams remained not out on 65 from 39 balls.
In response, it was obvious early on that JJ Smuts was going to be critical in chasing the large total down. The opening partnership between Smuts and Gihahn Cloete was 27, but 25 of them were struck by Smuts inside four overs as Cloete perished for two. Smuts continued in a similar vein as former Cape Cobras man Yaseen Vallie watched from the other end. Their stand reached 133 as Smuts brought up an exhilarating century. The skipper fell soon after for 101.
What then followed was a series of quick wickets as the Warriors fell away from the chase. Vallie fell for 52 off 82 balls, before Somila Seyibokwe and Christiaan Jonker fell for 15 and 23 respectively. Harmer and Birch then reignited the chase with a blistering 89-run stand. Predominantly in the side to bowl, the pair smashed 12 boundaries between them, five of them clearing the fence, to edge their side close to victory.
In a dramatic final two overs, the Titans clawed their way back, claiming both of their wickets, but Walters would finish off the job with a boundary off the penultimate delivery of the innings to seal an unlikely two-wicket victory for the visitors.