Back to square one as Warriors eye final berth

Recent results will count very little when the Warriors travel to face the Knights in the Momentum One-Day Cup playoff in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

The Warriors beat the Knights twice in the round-robin stages of this campaign.

The first was a low-scoring affair in Kimberley and the other a run-laden match in Port Elizabeth, where the Knights came a lot closer than perhaps they should have.

But Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa yesterday dismissed previous showings, saying the team which pitched and held their nerve would book a spot in the final against the Titans in Centurion on Friday.

“That will count for nothing,” Maketa said. “It’s a playoff game and it’s about who rocks up on the day that will take it. But as I have said in the past, we have been involved in three knockout games since I’ve been in charge. So we have that experience and hopefully we can channel that experience in Bloemfontein and claim a spot in the final.”

The Warriors qualified for the playoff with a 36-run Duckworth-Lewis Method victory over the Lions in a rain-affected, final pool game at St George’s Park on Thursday.

On a slow surface, the Warriors spinners were once again superb and put the skids on the Lions batsmen, with Jon-Jon Smuts taking four wickets.

Smuts then made a quick 50 with good support from Gihahn Cloete as they wasted no time against the new ball in getting the team off to a flying start. Strangely, when their wickets fell, the middle order appeared to creep into its shell.

“It was not an easy pitch to bat on and the way Jon-Jon Smuts and Gihahn Cloete batted up front is how we planned it. Unfortunately, we lost a couple of wickets and then showed some jitters, which was not good to see. But we learn from that experience and move on to a big knockout game against the Knights on Sunday,” Maketa said.

The Knights are unlikely to prepare a surface which suits the Warriors’ effective spin attack, so it may come down to how the seamers perform. The squads are:

Warriors: Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram, Gihahn Cloete, Aya Gqamane, Andrew Birch, Lesiba Ngoepe, Jerry Nqolo, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Yaseen Vallie, Basheer Walters, Kelly Smuts, Sisanda Magala, Anrich Nortje

Knights: Patrick Botha, Mbulelo Budaza, Marchant de Lange, Leus du Plooy, Dillon Du Preez, David Miller, Grant Mokoena, Tshepo Ntuli, Diego Rosier, Rudi Second, Aubrey Swanepoel, Pite van Biljon, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Lwandilwe Zuma

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