AB slays Warriors to lead Titans to victory

EARLY STRIKE: Warriors speedster Andrew Birch sends down a delivery in their Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Titans at Willowmoore Park in Benoni yesterday Picture: GALLO IMAGES
EARLY STRIKE: Warriors speedster Andrew Birch sends down a delivery in their Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Titans at Willowmoore Park in Benoni yesterday

PE team’s batsmen no match for fiery bowling of Morris, Ngidi

The Titans charged to the top of the Momentum One-Day Cup log thanks to a seven-wicket victory over the Warriors at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, chasing down their paltry target of 148 with 131 balls to spare yesterday.

Chris Morris (3/30) and Lungi Ngidi (3/32) were the chief destroyers as their aggressive pace and lateral movement off the seam proved too much for the Warriors batsmen.

The highly anticipated encounter petered out into a one-sided canter as the star-studded home side breezed to a comfortable victory thanks largely to a classy 75 not out from 62 balls from AB de Villiers.

On a pitch where most of the batsmen struggled, De Villiers made it look easy as he drove around the ground with aplomb and belted any delivery that had the temerity to rise above his waist.

The chase did not get off to the perfect start as Jonathan Vandiar (1) wafted at a full Andrew Birch (2/37) delivery and edged to captain Jon-Jon Smuts in the slip cordon.

The score read 8/1 and the door to an unlikely victory opened up ever so slightly.

With De Villiers returning to the team but batting at four, some of the home supporters may have been hoping the next wicket fell before too few runs were left to get.

They had to wait until 39 of them were scored when Heino Kuhn (23) played too early through the off-side and was caught by a stretching Colin Ackermann.

De Villiers needed just one sighter before he struck back-to-back boundaries, one through midwicket and the other through the covers.

The majority of the crowd in attendance paid to see the Proteas’ ODI captain in full flow and he was determined not to let them down. At the other end, Aiden Markram (23) was looking just as good but his chance to bat with De Villiers was cut short by a Birch delivery that kept very low to disturb his stumps.

Farhaan Behardien (24 not out) joined his national skipper and together they put on an unbeaten 87 for the fourth wicket.

Earlier in the day, the Warriors’ exploits with the bat never got out of second gear as regular wickets curtailed their ability to post anything remotely defendable.

Morris got the early wicket when he cleaned up opener Gihahn Cloete for a second-ball duck and then Ngidi had Colin Ingram (2) and Ackermann (0) back in the hut in the same over to have the visitors reeling at 18/3.

The first was a lucky break on the back of a remarkable catch on the fine leg boundary by Junior Dala and the second was a beautiful piece of bowling, a seaming delivery off a good length that found the edge of the bat, and offered a hint of the potential that this young man has with the ball in hand.

Coming off back-toback hundreds in his last two outings, much was expected from captain Smuts but he was dismissed for 39 from 58 watchful balls when he feathered a touch down the leg side off Malusi Siboto for Kuhn to pouch.

The experienced gloveman ended the innings with five dismissals to his name.

One of those was the stumping off Lesiba Ngoepe (2), whose charge down the wicket and subsequent unattractive swipe of the bat must be a strong contender for worst shot of the competition.

Yaseen Vallie (44) and Jerry Nqolo (26) offered some resistance, but both fell after establishing themselves at the crease.

The Warriors’ total of 147, the lowest from any side this season, was never going to be enough and so it proved as the Titans stars made light work of the chase for a bonus-point victory.

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