Anrich Nortje stars in see-saw match start
Warriors battle Knights in enthralling opening day
Tireless Warriors fast bowler Anrich Nortje starred with the ball, taking five wickets on an opening day of fluctuating fortunes in the 4-Day Franchise Series match against the Knights at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
It was an enthralling day of cricket with the Warriors dominating the first session before Knights newbie Andries Gous (135) made a maiden franchise hundred in the afternoon.
Nortje did the early damage, claiming two wickets to have the Knights at 39 for four.
He took another straight after lunch as the Knights slipped to 97 for five before Gous’s heroic innings and Ryan McLaren’s 74 not out ensured their team would finished the day on 276 for eight.
Nortje toiled hard throughout the afternoon and was rewarded with the additional wickets of Gous and Shadley van Schalkwyk late in the day.
Both were bowled following the introduction of the new ball and it was just reward for his untiring efforts.
He returned figures of five for 65 in 23 overs.
Playing in only his second franchise game in this format, 24-year-old Gous made his century under some telling pressure after waiting a number of years for his chance.
Having made his red-ball debut for the Knights against the Highveld Lions last week, the right-handed, former SA U19 player had only 20 runs to his name in two innings.
He had played some whiteball cricket for the Knights in previous seasons but players like Theunis de Bruyn and David Miller had delayed his entry into the red-ball ranks.
Gous struck 20 fours and three sixes in his 221-ball stay at the crease. He also added 159 for the sixth wicket with the experienced McLaren.
The Warriors had promised much in the first session, reducing the Knights to 39 for four within the first hour of play.
It was at that stage that Gous came to the crease and the Warriors would have fancied their chances of running through the opposition.
The home team had taken a wicket in each of the first two overs of the day with Nortje bowling Luthando Mnyanda (0) and Lutho Sipamla knicking off Keegan Petersen (3).
Grant Mokoena (10) was out soon after that, trapped leg before wicket by Sisanda Magala, before Nortje sent Rudi Second packing for just four.
When Pite van Biljon fell to Nortje in the over straight after lunch, the Warriors were in the driver’s seat, with the Knights limping at 94 for five until Gous and McLaren stepped in.
Warriors captain Jon-Jon Smuts rotated Magala and Sipamla at the Park Drive End and Simon Harmer and Nortje from the Duckpond Stand.
But it was only when the new ball came that the Warriors brought back some control to proceedings.