A third Momentum One Day Cup century from Gihahn Cloete and a half century on debut from wicketkeeper Sinethemba Qeshile handed the Warriors victory over the Cape Cobras by three wickets in the opening match at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl on Friday.
Cloete, opening the batting, was masterful in building his innings and pacing the chase to almost perfection before throwing his wicket away and leaving the visitors dressing room with a few butterflies. Cloete faced 127 deliveries and struck 11 boundaries before launching Jason Smith (10-1-46-3) high into the night sky where George Linde claimed a good catch over his shoulder.
Qeshile, making his debut for the Warriors, almost saw his side over the line before being run out by Tladi Bokako for 54 with the men from Port Elizabeth needing just five runs for victory. Qeshile faced 56 balls and struck just four boundaries in what was an excellent show of working the ball around the park.
The Cobras, winning the toss and electing to bat first, posted 276 for six in their 50 overs with wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne top-scoring with his career-best of 84, which came off 76 balls and included five boundaries and a six. Pieter Malan, last season’s leading run-scorer, continued where he left off in making his sixth MODC fifty before playing on to a ball from left-arm spinner, Thomas Kaber (8-0-48-1) for 54.
Malan and his namesake, Janneman (23) gave the home side a decent start with an opening stand of 56 before Matthew Breetzke claimed a good catch on the boundary off Jon-Jon Smuts (10-0-46-1), who had changed ends to effect the dismissal.
Malan and Zubayr Hamza (49) make a brisk 44 off 48 balls for the second wicket before Malan’s untimely error. Hamza though, making his career-best, fell one short of a maiden fifty, striking Onke Nyaku (6-0-22-1) straight to Smuts at short mid-wicket.
Smith (7) fell cheaply before Verreynne and and Isaac Dikgale (22) added 79 for the fifth wicket. Linde (23 not out) and Verreynne then pushed the total up by scoring 48 runs for the sixth wicket off only 29 balls to give the Cobras the boost they needed before Verreynne was bowled by Lutho Sipamla (8-0-50-3) off the final delivery of the innings.
In reply, the Warriors were given the perfect start by man of the match Cloete and his opening partner Breetzke (57). The pair laid the foundation with an opening stand of 110 off 139 deliveries and such was the comfort of the opening stand that it took a moment of mis-fortune to hand the Cobras the opening they were looking for.
Cloete played the ball into the covers and almost collided with Breetzke, who had to run around his partner only for Hamza to swoop in from the cover-region and whip the ball into Verreynne’s gloves, who then whipped the bails off to see Breetzke on his way.
Yaseen Vallie (11) handed Smith his first wicket, being caught by Linde but then Cloete and Qeshile teamed up to solidify their position with a stand of 70 for the third wicket off only 71 deliveries. The pair looked as they they were going to take their side home with Qeshile maneuvering the ball around the field and Cloete, who had been dropped by Bokako on 74, driving through the covers with pin-point accuracy.
But Cloete’s moment of madness came in the 42nd over when he tried to smash Smith out of the park, only to send the ball up into the air but it needed a good catch from Linde to see the end of the Cloete.
Smuts struck one boundary before falling for 15, edging behind to Verreynne off Smith while Christiaan Jonker (12) struck two boundaries off Dane Paterson (10-0-70-1) before striking Paterson straight to Janneman Malan at a wide mid-off position.
Nyaku (0) lasted just one ball as Bokako effected another run out off his own bowling before Sisanda Magala (9 not out) and Andrew Birch (0 not out) saw their side across the line. Captain Dane Piedt, who conceded just 36 runs in his 10 overs, will need to console Paterson who conceded 38 runs in his final three overs which helped push the visiting side over the line.