‘The Finisher’ does it for Warriors

BRIGHT START: Jon-Jon Smuts bowls to Dominic Hendricks during the CSA T20 Challenge match at St George’s Park Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
BRIGHT START: Jon-Jon Smuts bowls to Dominic Hendricks during the CSA T20 Challenge match at St George’s Park

Christiaan Jonker blasts unbeaten 49 off 18 balls in thrilling win over Lions

Christiaan Jonker did what he does best to lead the Warriors to a thrilling six wicket victory over the Highveld Lions in their CSA T20 Challenge cricket fixture at St George’s Park last night. Chasing a challenging 153 for victory, the Warriors were up against it at 98 for four after 15 overs, needing 55 to win off 30 balls.

Jonker, known as “The Finisher”, stood up and was counted as he smashed Willem Mulder for three sixes and a four off the last four balls of his third over. That 16th over ended up going for 27 runs and from there it was left to Jonker and batting partner Lesiba Ngoepe (18 not out) to take it home with all of 13 balls to spare.

Jonker finished on an incredible, unbeaten 49 off only 18 balls with five sixes and three fours.

His monumental effort ensured the Warriors a third win from four matches and also moved them into second place behind the Titans.

Captain Jon-Jon Smuts got the Warriors’ innings off to a bright start, timing the ball beautifully. While his opening partner Somila Seyibokwe played a watchful role, Smuts ensured that his team cruised through the six power play overs at a good rate of knots.

Seyibokwe was eventually undone by the introduction of the twin spinning threat of Eddie Leie and Aaron Phangiso. He was bowled by Leie for 17 off 24 balls.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, Smuts followed a few balls later for a well-played 31, bowled Phangiso, as they continued to turn the screws.

That left the Warriors on 52 for two in the ninth over and needing a substantial stand at a considerable rate.

But when Hardus Viljoen struck a double in dismissing both David White (9) and the in-form Colin Ackermann (22), the Warriors were 82 for four needing 71 runs off the last 42 balls before the Jonker show entered the arena.

Earlier, Mangaliso Mosehle belted a quick-fire 49 as the Highveld Lions scored 152 for five.

Mosehle got to the crease at a stage when the Lions’ innings needed to gain some momentum after a good opening start from Rassie van der Dussen and Dominic Hendricks with 64 runs through 10 overs after the Lions won the toss. The bustling wicketkeeper played delightful strokes, clubbing four fours and two sixes off 27 balls.

Van der Dussen and Hendricks struggled up front but as their partnership moved along through the power play and beyond they started to get the pace of the pitch.

They were 34 without loss after the power play and lived charmed lives, popping the ball just past the Warriors fielders on a couple of occasions.

The Warriors stuck at it though and fast bowler Sisanda Magala was superb in bowling his first spell of two overs for only three runs.

Captain and left-arm spinner Smuts was equally good and not for the first time in his career got the first breakthrough for the Warriors by bowling slog-sweeping Van der Dussen (29).

He was out just after the halfway stage of the innings and hit two fours and a six off 24 balls.

Mosehle came in and played freely on the testing surface. But the batsmen were struggling to get Smuts away and he collected his second wicket of the innings having Hendricks caught and bowled for 38.

Smuts finished with the fine figures of two for 15 in his four overs.

But Mosehle provided the necessary impetus at the back end of the innings as Magala conceded 21 runs in his third over. He was eventually caught off the bowling of Andrew Birch.

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