Last chance saloon for Warriors in bid to qualify for cup playoff
The Warriors enter the last saloon as they attempt to seal a playoff spot in their final Momentum One-Day Cup round-robin match against the Cape Cobras at St George's Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Jon-Jon Smuts' team are fourth on the table and the permutation is pretty simple for the joint-defending champions in that they need to beat the Cobras to qualify for the top three.
They could still finish second if they win and the Dolphins lose in their final match against the Lions in Potchefstroom, also on Saturday. But a straight win will be their first priority.
The Warriors have been their own worst enemy over past couple of weeks. After having led the standings through the halfway stage by going five matches unbeaten, the team have slumped to four straight defeats. One of those, the return match against the Titans, should have been a comfortable victory had the normally ever-reliable Andrew Birch not been taken for 25 runs by tailender Junior Dala in one of the death overs.
These things happen in cricket but their most recent failures have been because of the bat and not making enough runs.
"Credit had to go to the Dolphins bowlers," said Smuts. "They bowled really well and got wickets at important times and restricted us to 230-odd. If we had got about 260 or 270 we could have been in with a chance."
Smuts admits the Warriors have fallen short in their last few matches but is confident the team can pull it off when it matters most against the Cobras on Saturday.
"It's been a disappointing second half for us. But we've got one last chance. We know that our destiny is still in our hands so if we can win that on Saturday we still got a decent chance so hopefully we can do that."
They will be without young batsman Sinethemba Qeshile, who has joined up with the national side and the team will also be up against a determined Cobras outfit also looking to make the playoffs with a last-gasp victory.
A sign of the Warriors' struggle with the bat is that only Qeshile features in the top 20 of the leading batting averages in the competition.
It does not help matters that their leading wicket-taker Lutho Sipamla is also away with the Proteas playing against Sri Lanka.
Saturday will be a good day for the reserve strength to stand up and be counted.
Today's fixtures are (all start at 1.30pm): Warriors v Cobras (PE), Knights v Titans (Bloemfontein), Lions v Dolphins (Potchefstroom)
The latest log is (four points for a win, five for a bonus point victory): 1 Titans 28, 2 Dolphins 21, 3 Cobras 20, 4 Warriors 18, 5 Knights 14, 6 Lions 14..