But team not taking anything for granted against tricky Knights
The Warriors continue their push for a Momentum One-Day Cup playoff spot berth today confident in the knowledge that two of their final three pool fixtures will be played at their stronghold in Port Elizabeth.
The Eastern Cape franchise come up against the Knights at St George’s Park from 2pm today. They then travel to face the Titans in Benoni on Tuesday before coming back home to play the Lions in their last round-robin fixture.
The team will be boosted by the fact that they have not lost at St George’s Park this season.
They have played seven matches across all three competitions and won all of them bar one, which was an abandoned match against the Cobras because of rain.
It is against this backdrop that the second-placed Warriors host the dangerous David Miller and his fellow Knights.
Captain Jon-Jon Smuts this week acknowledged the team’s success in Port Elizabeth, but said his teammates were not taking anything for granted.
“We feel we haven’t quite played our perfect game yet even as a batting unit,” he said.
“The game here in PE against the Dolphins where Colin [Ingram] got a hundred is probably where we got the closest to playing that perfect game.
“But we have a really good record here this season and hopefully we are hitting form at the right time.”
Smuts played the innings of his life at the weekend.
Playing in his 100th List A game, he clubbed 173 not out off 164 deliveries, including nine fours and eight sixes.
His innings helped the team to a bonus-point victory over the Cobras in Cape Town. “It was quite special and it was quite nice to have my wife and my daughter there as well,” he said.
“It was just a really good team performance from the guys.
“I know on the scorecard it looks like we kind of dominated the game, but that really wasn’t the case.
“Richard Levi’s mid-innings injury gave us a little sniff and then our bowlers really turned it up, starting with Aya [Gqamane].
“He was really special. I think he knocked two or three over in his spell, which was unbelievable.
“Then with new batters coming in and the pitch turning with the spinners bowling it was really hard for them to find their rhythm.”
The spinners will again play a crucial role and batting first may prove crucial as it has all season.
Such are the fluctuations of whiteball cricket that the Warriors have either been batting first and winning with a bonus point or chasing 300. There has been very little middle ground.
“It’s been a tough one,” Smuts said. “So far not many scores have been chased. “There’s been a big emphasis on batting first, putting runs on the board and then guys defending it.
“Some teams start off well, then lose a couple of wickets and then get rolled for nothing. I guess it would be great if I could win every toss from now on and we bat first every time.”
Knights coach Nicky Boje said the tightness of this competition was similar to how the four-day season, which his side won last month, panned out.
“There were quite a lot of teams in contention right until the end,” he said.
“That means that there’s pressure on you for every game.”
The squads: Warriors: Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram, Andrew Birch, Gihahn Cloete, Aya Gqamane, Jerry Nqolo, Lesiba Ngoepe, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Yaseen Vallie, Basheer Walters, Kelly Smuts, Anrich Nortje, Sisanda Magala Knights: Mbulelo Budaza, Marchant de Lange, Leus du Plooy, Dillon du Preez, David Miller, Luthando Mnyanda, Sammy Mofokeng, Keegen Peterson, Diego Rosier, Rudi Second, Aubrey Swanepoel, Pite van Biljon (capt), Shadley van Schalkwyk