Knights take the hon­ours

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - Alvin Reeves ReevesA@ti­soblack­star.co.za

THEUNIS de Bruyn and David Miller rained on the War­riors’ pa­rade as the Knights won the open­ing game of the Ram Slam T20 Chal­lenge by eight wick­ets at St Ge­orge’s Park last night.

Chas­ing 154 for vic­tory, the War­riors struck a cou­ple of early blows to have the vis­i­tors 15 for two in the fourth over. But cap­tain De Bruyn (78 not out) and Miller (62 not out) took their time and even­tu­ally launched the at­tack to all parts of the ground as the team eased home with 12 de­liv­er­ies to spare.

They shared a fran­chise record, un­beaten stand of 142 for the third wicket.

In what was scripted to be a War­riors cel­e­bra­tion of their new flood­lights and score­board at the ground, De Bruyn and Miller took cen­tre stage to put a damper on their pro­ceed­ings.

Com­ing off his re­cent 36-ball hun­dred against Bangladesh, Miller was al­ways go­ing to be a dan­ger man. He sur­vived a very good leg-be­forewicket shout off the very first ball he faced bowled by An­drew Birch. It looked a de­ci­sion that could have gone ei­ther way, but Miller got the rub of the green and promptly smacked the next ball through the cov­ers for four.

He then flat-bat­ted a free hit off Aya Gqa­mane for six and that ap­peared to click him into high gear.

At the other end, and with the Knights even­tu­ally re­quir­ing 75 balls off 42 de­liv­er­ies, De Bruyn took 22 off a Ack­er­mann over to ease the pres­sure on the chase.

De Bruyn’s in­nings came off only 48 balls with six sixes and three fours while Miller was slightly slower tak­ing 47 de­liv­er­ies (7x4, 3x6).

The Knights won the toss and De Bruyn asked the War­riors to take first strike – a de­ci­sion cap- tains rarely took at St Ge­orge’s Park with the old flood­lights in place.

TheWar­riors in­nings took a strange path filled with ups and downs.

Jon-Jon Smuts and Gi­hahn Cloete tore into the Knights open­ing pair of Ryan McClaren and Marchant de Lange, smash­ing 39 off the open­ing four overs.

Both fast bowlers were hauled off af­ter two overs each and it proved an in­tu­itive move. Both of their re­place­ments, seamer Shadley van Schalk­wyk and spin­ner Aubrey Swanepoel, struck in their first overs.

Cloete was first to leave the scene as Van Schalk­wyk had him caught in the deep for 19 with his first de­liv­ery. Swanepoel then got the big fish Smuts caught by Van Schalk­wyk at a short mid-wicket for 18.

The good start was even fur­ther un­done when Colin In­gram ran him­self out with­out any ad­di­tion to the to­tal and the War­riors were 46 for three in the sev­enth over.

More drama was to fol­low in the shape of an­other soft dis­missal when Colin Ack­er­mann was caught off Van Schalk­wyk, who then took his third wicket in bowl­ing Jerry Nqolo.

The War­riors had spun out of con­trol, hav­ing lost five wick­ets for 30 runs, and needed some sta­bil­ity which they found in a sixth part­ner­ship of 38 for the sixth wicket be­tween Chris­ti­aan Jonker and Solo Nqweni.

As more wick­ets tum­bled af­ter that for the War­riors to be at 113 for eight in 17 overs, Jonker re­mained mea­sured.

Legspin­ner Ed­die Leie bowled the next over and Jonker blasted him for 21 runs, in­clud­ing two sixes and two fours.

The burst pro­pelled the War­riors to a to­tal their bowlers would at least have a de­cent chance of de­fend­ing.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN WITBOOI

SAV­ING FACE: Chris­ti­aan Jonker, right, top-scored for the War­riors against the VKB Knights at St Ge­orge’s Park last night

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