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Cricket | Momentum One-Day Cup

Lesiba Ngoepe © Gallo Images

Warriors look to go one better



Having narrowly lost out in the final of the CSA T20 Challenge, Captain Jon-Jon Smuts and the Warriors will be hoping to get their hands on the Momentum One Day Cup trophy when they face the Multiply Titans in the final on Friday, 31 March.

It is a match that has the makings of a Hollywood underdog tale á la the Mighty Ducks, the Warriors once again head to SuperSport Park in Centurion to face a star-studded Titans team in a franchise white-ball cricket final.

"If you had to play on paper, the Titans would probably beat us quite convincingly, but that is the beauty of sport - it's not played on paper, it's played on grass.

"They are a very strong side, but it is a final and anything can happen on the day. We came very close in the T20 competition and have had a few tough battles against them over the last few years, so it will be very exciting to have another one with them," said Smuts.

While the Titans boast Protea stars such as AB de Villiers, Chris Morris, Fahraan Behardien and Tabraiz Shamsi to name a few, Smuts believes that his Eastern Cape men are more than capable of downing their more fancied opponents.

"We might not have the international stars like AB de Villiers or David Miller, but in terms of domestic cricket of the last few years, we have got some serious players.

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"Take Andrew Birch for example - Birchy has been one of the top domestic bowlers for the last number of years. Colin Ackermann is playing some unbelievable cricket at the moment, while Sisanda Magala is probably one of the most promising up-and-coming bowlers and one of the quickest in the country."

Added to that, the Warriors boast Smuts himself who finished as the top run scorer in the T20 Challenge and currently lies atop the run charts in the Momentum One Day Cup (MODC). He also leads the Warriors in the bowling stakes with 13 wickets in the MODC, to go with his nine in the T20s.

An 18-run win against the Knights in the qualifier on a tricky pitch in Bloemfontein on Monday advanced the Warriors to Friday's final, with a man-of-the-match 83 from Colin Ingram proving the worth of the 40-capped Protea international.

"Colin Ingram we all know is world class. He could still be playing for South Africa and he is a helluva player. He has held our batting line-up together for so long and it's nice now that all of a sudden we're getting a lot more players contributing to winning games so that it's not always on his shoulders," explained Smuts.

A week ago, the Warriors lay in fourth spot on the table. They beat the Lions in Port Elizabeth on Friday to make the playoffs, then they downed the Knights to make the final. Now, standing between them and their first piece of silverware since the 2009/10 season is a Titans team who have beaten them twice in the MODC.

"At the end of the day, finals are pretty much about who comes to play and who takes the big moments well. I think the fact that we have almost had to play a quarterfinal, a semifinal and now a final - that might help us a little bit. Friday will be do-or-die time for us again and I think that's where we play our best cricket," concluded the three-capped Protea international.



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