The Chevrolet Warriors ended their disappointing Momentum One-Day Cup season on a high note with a 22-run win over the Sunfoil Dolphins at Buffalo Park in East London on Wednesday.
A fine innings from rookie batsman Christiaan Jonker set up a defendable total, and excellent bowling from Andrew Birch and Aya Gqamane applied a stranglehold that the Sunfoil Dolphins could not escape, thus also ending their hopes of a semi-final spot.
After winning the toss, the Chevrolet Warriors ended up with a disappointing total of 210. Lonwabo Tsotsobe struck in his first over, having Ashwell Prince caught behind off the sixth ball of the innings. He also removed fellow opener Jon-Jon Smuts to leave the Chevrolet Warriors staggering on sixteen for two.
The Chevrolet Warriors batting has been fragile all season, and their salvation came from an unlikely source. Jonker was plucked almost from nowhere, playing recently for South Western Districts. In just his third Momentum Cup match, he produced an excellent innings of 84 off 110 balls, striking eight fours and two sixes. One of these came off Tsotsobe’s second spell as the left armer finished with three for 43, having taken two for twenty in his opening burst of six overs.
There was not much to write home about on the batting front. Davy Jacobs and Craig Thyssen each got into the twenties, but with no significant partnerships, much wrested on Jonker as the one player to build an innings. His fifty came off 83 balls, but he cranked up the pace with his first Momentum half-century in the bag.
He departed in the 38th over, initiating a slump which saw the last five wickets fall for 46 in eight overs. Kyle Abbott had much to do with this, finishing with a useful return of four for 38 when he bowled Makhaya Ntini. The veteran’s tenth wicket partnership with recalled off-spinner Simon Harmer added seventeen runs as both hit out boldly, and this was to prove a crucial difference between the teams. Kyle Abbot broke the partnership, finishing with four for 38.
The Sunfoil Dolphins needed to bat at 4.2 to the over. Andrew Birch made a telling breakthrough in the sixth over, dismissing Imraan Khan and Daryn Smit with successive legal deliveries, separated by a wide. When he bowled Divan van Wyk for 23 after the completion of the PowerPlay, the Sunfoil Dolphins were in a bit of trouble on 46 for three.
With the run rate not really a factor, Cody Chetty teamed up with Vaughn van Jaarsveld in a telling partnership. In just under twenty overs, the pair added 94 for the fourth wicket and it seemed that the Sunfoil Dolphins were cruising.
Jacobs turned to Birch, and the blond pace man responded by dismissing Chetty in the second over of his new spell. Even so, with Van Jaarsveld well set on 62, and just 71 needed off 113 balls, it looked to be in the bag for the Sunfoil Dolphins.
However, another newcomer to the Chevrolet Warriors squad had other ideas. Aya Gqamane had the stylish David Miller out in the following over, and when Van Jaarsveld was caught by Harmer in the medium-pacer’s next over for 71, made off 87 balls with eight fours and a six, the Sunfoil Dolphins were in deep trouble.
Gqamane despatched the big-hitting Robbie Frylinck soon afterwards and, when Wayne Parnell had his one bright spot of a disappointing evening by shattering young Calvin Savage’s stumps, five wickets had tumbled for twenty runs. Abbott and Prenelan Subrayen tried to stage a heroic comeback with a ninth wicket partnership of 21, each hitting two boundaries as the Sunfoil Dolphins crept closer to the target.
Gqamane was not to be be denied. After going wicketless in his first two overs, he failed to take a wicket in only one of his next six as he claimed a maiden List A five-wicket haul. He was named the Man of the Match for his efforts. There was a fair case for Birch, whose eventual analysis of four for 28 wrecked the top order, while Jonker also deserved special praise.
The Chevrolet Warriors won just their second match of the season, but remained in sixth spot on the log, while the Dolphins were not able to improve on their fifth place.