Battle hots up for second place
Things are hotting up in the Momentum One Day Cup, and an intriguing situation prevails as the teams complete the first round of fixtures this weekend.
The Chevrolet Warriors and the Nashua Titans go into this match at Axxess St George’s on Sunday after contrasting results on Friday night.
The Chevrolet Warriors won their first game of the season, taking a bonus point home from their encounter with the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in East London, while the Nashua Titans slumped to defeat in Durban.
While the bizhub Highveld Lions seem to have an unassailable lead at present, any of four teams could end the day in second place and be in line for a home semifinal.
The Warriors will be savouring the memory of Friday’s win against the Cape Cobras, but they will not be satisfied with all aspects of their game at present. It was an important game for them, and the team was relieved to pull it off.
The batting performances have been stuttering at best. Michael Price did give them a good start with a solid fifty, but again they were reliant on the middle-order to set up a competitive target.
The consistent contributions have come from the middle-order. Wayne Parnell is starting to confirm his promise as an allrounder while captain Davy Jacobs, preferring the number 5 slot, has been the best perfomer with the bat.
Some might have expected Jacobs to have stayed at the top of the order. Coach Piet Botha disagrees with this view. “Davy has a better record in the middle-order, and we are also mindful of his wicketkeeping duties. The changes to the rules also provide opportunities for him to exploit the fielding restrictions later in the innings.”
The experienced bowlers in the Warriors team have also not lived up to their reputations. Makhaya Ntini, Parnell and Simon Harmer have been disappointing.
Adrian Birch and Basheeru Walters have been the most successful, with seven and eight wickets respectively. Neither was given the new ball on Friday, but the six wickets they shared swung the match in the home team’s favour.
The Titans have been suffering from a similar inconsistency in their batting order. Henry Davids has alternated sublime performances with some ordinary ones, but the real star has been Mangaliso Mosehle.
The Easterns keeper has been racking up the runs, with a maiden List A century the highlight of the Sunfoil Dolphins match. Not only is he the second batsman to pass 200 runs for the season, but he has impressed with his aggression.
His 233 runs have come at an average of 58 and a strike rate of 94. His tally of sixes is already at 15, well ahead of his nearest challenger.
He, Davids and Mr Extras contributed 204 to the Nashua Titans score of 250, well over 80%.
Coach Matthew Maynard is not overly concerned about the batting. “Yes, the middle-order batsmen have been a bit short on runs, but a good knock and they will all be back in form.”
He was also happy with Rowan Richards, whose four-wicket burst almost turned the game in the Titans' favour. “Richards and CJ de Villiers have both showed a few signs of rust, but Richards came back with a good spell.”
Albie Morkel is also far from his best form. The strength has been in the spin attack, with Paul Harris and Roelof van der Merwe being hard to get away.
History does not favour the Warriors. In 17 previous encounters, the Titans have won eleven to the Warriors' three (one tie and two no result matches).
Surprisingly, the Warriors' record at their home ground at Port Elizabeth has been equally poor. They have won just six of twenty matches St George’'s (13 losses and a tie).
The Titans have better memories, with two wins and a tie their return from five visits. Is it a hoodoo ground for the Warriors?
“Statistics are history,” says Botha, “and history is there to be changed.”
Play starts at 10am on Sunday. Weather conditions are expected to be ideal, with partly cloudy skies and a maximum temperature of just 21 degrees, and only a 10% possibility of rain.