A superb display with bat and ball by Dean Elgar helped the Chevrolet Knights to a hard-fought six–run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors on a sluggish wicket at Axxess St George’s in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Despite Elgar’s 60-ball innings of 61, the visitors had only managed a total of 114 for four in their 20 overs, and the Warriors in reply had looked on course for victory after a 48-run second wicket partnership between Ashwell Prince (37) and captain Davy Jacobs (30).
However, Elgar’s figures of four for 23 with the ball were instrumental in helping the Knights rein the hosts in, and a magnificent all-round defensive effort ultimately ended the Warriors three-match winning streak.
Victory for the Knights sees them move level on points with the Warriors on 17, albeit having played an extra game.
The Knights had earlier elected to bat first after winning the toss, but suffered early setbacks as two run-outs accounted for openers Gihahn Cloete (2) and Loots Bosman (1) within the first three overs.
At nine for two, consolidation was required between Elgar and number-three batsman Obus Pienaar (22). However, the pair were bogged down by some disciplined Warriors bowling, and a six from Elgar at the end of the ninth over eventually broke a boundary drought of 36 deliveries.
Pienaar’s agony came to an end in the 12th over, as he miscued an Ayabulela Gqamane (4-0-22-1) delivery down the throat of the fielder on the mid-wicket boundary to leave his side struggling at 46 for three.
But Elgar, who at that stage had accumulated just 20 from his 32 balls, began to step up the run rate, and three big sixes, along with some effective strike rotation, put the Warriors attack under pressure for the first time.
His partner Pite van Biljon (17) then got into the act with a maximum in the penultimate over. He perished in the cause two balls later, but Elgar remained resolute and finished the innings off with some good impetus to give his bowlers something to defend.
The Warriors’ reply began well, as Prince clubbed two Malusi Siboto (1-0-13-0) deliveries to the boundary in the third over. However, skipper Johan van der Wath (3-0-12-1) made the breakthrough for the visitors an over later as he snuck one through dangerman Christiaan Jonker’s (6) bat and pad to clean up his off-stump, and the right-hander departed with his team on 19 for one.
The visitors looked to apply some pressure on Prince and new-man Jacobs shortly after, but just as the required rate began to climb above a run a ball, the former responded with a lovely shot over mid-wicket off the final delivery of the powerplay overs.
Both men began to grow in confidence, and Jacobs eased the total past the fifty mark with a neat drive for four off Nicky Boje (3-0-15-0) to the cover boundary in the ninth over. It was beginning to look as though the duo might coast home, but the impressive Elgar drew a false stroke from Jacobs in the 13th over, and he was snared at mid-wicket with the total on 67.
Samit Patel (6) and Wayne Parnell (2) were unable to offer Prince the sustained support he needed, and by the time the latter holed out from the bowling of Shadley van Schalkwyk (4-0-17-1) at the end of the 16th over, the Warriors still required a further 34 runs.
Kelly Smuts (11) showed some intent in his brief stay at the crease, but he became opening bowler Jandre Coetzee’s (4-0-16-1) first victim after a sensational catch on the boundary by Elgar.
New-man Adrian McLaren lasted just one delivery as he fell in the penultimate over to the now rampant Elgar, and when Prince was trapped in front one delivery later, any realistic hopes of a Warriors victory were gone, and some good batting in the final deliveries from Simon Harmer (11 not out) succeeded only in flattering the margin of defeat.
CHEVROLET WARRIORS - Christiaan Jonker, Ashwell Prince, Samit Patel, Adrian McLaren (wk), Davy Jacobs (capt), Wayne Parnell, Craig Thyssen, Kelly Smuts, Simon Harmer, Rusty Theron, Ayabulela Gqamane.
CHEVROLET KNIGHTS - Loots Bosman, Gihahn Cloete (wk), Dean Elgar, Pite van Biljon, Obus Pienaar, Werner Coetsee, Nicky Boje, Johan van der Wath (capt), Jandre Coetzee, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Malusi Siboto.