The Warriors blew away the bizhub Highveld Lions in a comfortable six-wicket, bonus-point victory in the opening match of this season’s Momentum OneDay Cup at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg last night.
After bowling their hosts out for a paltry 209, thanks largely to Sisanda Magala’s 3/28 from his eight overs, the Warriors’ chase faltered at 79/4 before Jon-Jon Smuts (70 from 70) and Christiaan Jonker (55 from 59) put on an unbroken 131 for the fifth wicket to help their side kick off their campaign with a routine win with 13 overs to spare.
The pair opted for a different approach to the Lions batsmen and went with a simple game plan: pick up regular singles, keep out the good balls and dispatch the bad ones to the boundary.
It was cricket made easy and gave Geoffrey Toyana’s men a lesson.
The Lions’ innings was marked by batsmen who gave their wickets away with unnecessarily expansive shots and Warriors opener Matthew Breetzke (5 from 7), on debut, took a leaf out of his hosts’ book when he launched both feet off the ground to uppercut the first ball delivered by Dwaine Pretorius (1/49 from 8 overs) in the second over and picked out Hardus Viljoen at third man.
Despite the early setback, the Warriors were still in the driving seat and a 56-run partnership for the second wicket between Gihahn Cloete (28 from 42) and Colin Ackermann (35 from 30) took control of the match.
Then Viljoen (3/57 from 8 overs) was reintroduced into the attack and Cloete played on to his stumps with a horizontal bat.
Four overs later, Viljoen roared in and bagged a brace.
First Yaseen Vallie (3 from 16) was out on the drive, brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle, then Ackermann received a snorter from a good length that clattered into the splice of his bat and looped towards Bjorn Fortuin at point.
Despite Viljoen’s burst, the result was never in doubt after the abject batting display from the home side.
Rassie van der Dussen (22 from 30) can be excused as he had the misfortune of facing the ball of the match from Ayabulela Gqamane (2/34 from 5 overs) that squared him up before finding a faint edge.
There can be no such excuse for Ryan Rickelton (11 from 27), Omphile Ramela (31 from 47) and a host of lower-order batsmen who were out playing shots they would rather take back.
Both openers were unlucky in their dismissals and cannot be blamed for their side’s failures.
Reeza Hendricks (11 from 16), in fine form after topping the Ram Slam T20 Challenge run scorer’s list, could do little about the jaffa he got from the impressive Magala that seamed off a good length and found the edge for a diving JJ Smuts at second slip.
Stephen Cook (41 from 55), returning to skipper the side, was characteristically stoic and had just started to anchor when he was run out in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
While attempting to return to his crease at the non-striker’s end after an aborted quick single, his bat got stuck in the ground.
Ackermann had no sympathy and was on target with a direct hit.
Only Pretorius offered resistance and struck seven fours and three sixes in an unbeaten 77 from just 62 deliveries.
He needed a tail-ender to stay with him, but his teammates capitulated around him, losing six wickets for just 47 runs.
The Lions will need to lick their wounds and sort out their batting frailties before they host the Dolphins in Potchefstroom tomorrow.