The weather has created a fascinating end to the round robin stage of the Momentum One-Day Cup after the match between the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Chevrolet Warriors at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg was abandoned.
The umpires, Johan Cloete and Marais Erasmus, called the game off shortly before 4pm as the heavens opened up after the completion of the bizhub Higveld Lions innings. Both teams will take two points from the match, meaning that the bizhub Highveld Lions move to 28 points and remain four points clear of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras. The match between the Chevrolet Knights and the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in Bloemfontein was abandoned earlier on Sunday without a ball being bowled.
Wednesday sees the final round of qualifying matches being played, with the bizhub Highveld Lions travelling to Kimberley to take on the Chevrolet Knights, while the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras host the Nashua Titans in Paarl. The other match involves the Sunfoil Dolphins visiting the Chevrolet Warriors in East London.
Before the rain intervened, a wonderful innings of 73 not out from Neil McKenzie helped the bizhub Highveld Lions post 208 for six in 43 overs.
The experience of McKenzie came through as his 73 not out came off 96 balls and included eight boundaries and a six. McKenzie came to the crease with the bizhub Highveld Lions struggling on 34 for two just after the rain interruption.
The Chevrolet Warriors captain, Dave Jacobs, had no hesitation in sending the bizhub Highveld Lions into bat first after winning the toss under grey skies and bowler friendly conditions. The decision paid immediate dividends as Andrew Birch trapped the home team’s captain, Stephen Cook, for 11 before rain came down.
When the teams returned to the field of play, the match had been reduced to 43 overs a side. The cloud cover and pitch assisted the opening pair of Makhaya Ntini and Birch. Ntini struck in his fifth over, the first full over after the rain interruption, having the exciting young bizhub Highveld Lions wicketkeeper, Quinton de Kock, caught behind off an inside edge for three. Jacobs took an excellent catch, diving low and to his right.
Ntini struck again in his seventh over, again combining with Jacobs behind the stumps, to remove Gulam Bodi for 13, which included one huge six over midwicket. The bizhub Highveld Lions were in a spot of bother at 45 for three, and more was to follow as Jean Symes (eight) was run out from a direct throw at the non-striker’s end by Ayabulela Gqamane. Temba Bavuma joined the experienced Neil McKenzie at the crease with the score on 60 in the 18th over.
Ntini, as has been the case all season long, bowled his full stint on the trot, finishing with 2-23 from nine overs. Ntini, along with Birch and left-arm quick, Wayne Parnell, consistently beat the edge of the bat. Parnell finally found the edge of Bavuma’s bat, but, as has become the ‘norm’ in South African cricket of late, Parnell overstepped by some way, and Bavuma survived with his score on nine.
Bavuma and McKenzie went about rebuilding the innings and brought up their 50-run partnership in the 30th over when Bavuma slashed a delivery from Christiaan Jonker down to third man for one.
Once again the change bowlers of the Chevrolet Warriors were not able to build on the pressure that had been created by Ntini and Birch, as Parnell, Basheer Walters, Ayabulela Gqamane and Jonker all went for runs.
Jon-Jon Smuts eventually made the breakthrough that Jacobs had been looking for when Bavuma top edged an attempted pull shot off his hips, to be caught by Birch at a short fine-leg. Bavuma played well for his 37, which came off 44 balls and included five boundaries, in a partnership worth 80 with McKenzie that came at five runs per over.
McKenzie brought up his 54th List A half-century off 80 deliveries including six boundaries, a valuable contribution that kept the home side ticking over.
Zander de Bruyn's 23-ball stay at the crease yielded 15 runs before becoming Jacobs’ third victim behind the stumps, this time off Birch. This would be the last success for the Chevrolet Warriors as the home team scored 75 runs off their final ten overs. Chris Morris played a gem of a cameo at the back-end of the innings, scoring 23 not out off just 13 deliveries, which included two boundaries.
Birch claimed 2-38 off his nine overs which assisted Ntini in putting the bizhub Highveld Lions under some early pressure. As was the case in Cape Town on Friday, Parnell went wicketless for 50 runs off nine overs, while Walters conceded 31 runs off six overs, which included two maidens.
Jonker, Gqamane and Smuts had combined figures of 10-0-59-1 and illustrated the lack of support for Birch and Ntini.
A worrying stat for coach Piet Botha to think about, is that his bowlers conceded 17 wides, with Walters, Ntini and Birch conceding 13 between them.
bizhub Highveld Lions: Stephen Cook (capt), Gulam Bodi, Quintin de Kock (w/k), Neil McKenzie, Jean Symes, Chris Morris, Temba Bavuma, Zander de Bruyn, Garnett Kruger, Aaron Phangiso, Pumelela Matshikwe.
Chevrolet Warriors: Ashwell Prince, Jon-Jon Smuts, Christiaan Jonker, Colin Ackermann, Davy Jacobs (capt, w/k), Wayne Parnell, Craig Thyssen, Ayabulela Gqamane, Basheer Walters, Andrew Birch, Makhaya Ntini.