Today’s Momentum One-Day Cup cricket match between the Warriors and the champions, the Multiply Titans, at Buffalo Park is the most important game for the Eastern Cape franchise this season.
A victory over the Titans, coached by former East Londoner Mark Boucher, will help the Warriors to enter the final four for the play-offs at the end of January.
Another loss, like the one they suffered against the Highveld Lions on Thursday despite scoring more than 300 runs, could relegate the Warriors to also-rans.
Last season they were good enough to reach the final of the competition, only to see the wheels fall off when they faced the Titans at SuperSport Park, Centurion.
The Titans motored to a new franchise record of 425/5 in their 50 overs, with internationals Aiden Markram, 161, and Henry Davids, 114, making centuries, and the Warriors lost by a mammoth 236 runs.
Titans test stars AB de Villiers, Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Chris Morris will not be in action tomorrow, but their replacements are adequate, in fact more than adequate, to maintain the Titans’ competitiveness.
Two bowlers to watch tomorrow are left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and medium-pacer Junior Dala.
It is always exciting when Shamsi comes on to bowl.
He has the ability to completely fox the batsman into playing down the wrong line, and the bulk of his victims are either bowled or are trapped leg before wicket.
Dala is improving with each outing and must be in the national selectors’ thoughts.
He is likely to be the visiting paceman to watch.
The Warriors, who have scored more than 300 runs in each of their last two matches – 335/9 against the Knights and 306/6 on Thursday – must realise that to win their matches, big scores mean nothing unless 10 opposition wickets are captured.
Unfortunately at present the bowling attack appears to lack some bite.
Part of the reason is that a last-minute injury to Warriors fast bowler Sisanda Malaga shortly before the teams went onto the field resulted in the capping of the inexperienced Sithembile Langa.
The medium-pacer, who bowled well at times, picked up 3/50 off seven overs, but often looked innocuous and the Lions batsmen picked him off for some easy runs.
However, Warriors skipper Jon-Jon Smuts is always positive, as is caretaker coach Rivash Gobind and they will be looking for revenge after the Titans won their first clash a week or so ago.
Hopefully Gobind will give middle-order Border batsman Marco Marais another chance tomorrow. He scored 41 on his debut in Kimberley and hit a six on Thursday in a regrettably short innings.