Uphill battle for Warriors

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A poor start to the season has left the Warriors with a mountain to climb if they are to match or go one better than their runner-up finish last season in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.

TAKING A STAND: Jon-Jon Smuts, of the Warriors during the Ram Slam T20 Challenge match between the Warriors and Titans at Buffalo Park on Friday in East London Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Their thumping 61-run loss against the Titans at Buffalo Park on Friday followed their opening match six-wicket loss against the Knights at St Georges Park.

This has left them bottom of the log at this early stage of the campaign, going into a testing run of fixtures over the coming two weeks.

“We were banking on starting well with two home games. We usually play really well at home … unfortunately we haven’t done that now and it is up to us to really put performances together and get back into the competition,” said outgoing Warriors and new Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa.

Starting on Wednesday, the Warriors will head into a crazy run of fixtures that will see them play six games in 11 days, with five in a row away from home before they return to St Georges for the sixth.

First up will be the Dolphins in Durban, which will be a tricky encounter against the team currently sitting second on the log.

“The good thing is that it is back-to-back games, so we will have to start well on that first away game to pick up some positive momentum,” admitted Maketa.

“We are left in a position where we have to win now, we don’t want to be left too far behind.

“Against the Dolphins in Durban there is always something in the wicket, especially in the evening so it will suit our bowling attack. We just need to make sure our batting also fires.”

On Friday the Warriors let themselves down with both the ball and the bat after enjoying a strong start on both fronts in the match.

After winning the toss and electing to field, the Eastern Cape franchise enjoyed a superb start reducing the Titans to 9/2 with dangerous openers Henry Davids and Quinton de Kock back in the hutch by the fourth over, and with the visitors floundering at 26/2 after the first six, the Warriors were in charge.

The next 14 overs, however, went for 146 runs at over 10-an-over with the Titans’ middle-order firing, allowing them to post a formidable total.

Basheer Walters with 1/15 and Andrew Birch with 0/23 bowled well in their respective four-over spells. However, the rest of the bowling department struggled.

The Warriors’ chase then got off to the perfect start as Gihahn Cloete (32) and captain Jon-Jon Smuts (20) went on the attack, launching the ball to all parts of the ground on their way to an impressive 50-run stand in the opening five overs, leaving them comfortably ahead of the asking rate.

A disastrous collapse then followed – even worse than the one produced in PE just a week before – as the Warriors lost six wickets for just seven runs in four overs, effectively ending the contest.

Christiaan Jonker (12), Birch (24) and Sisanda Magala (19) enjoyed a few lusty blows to make the score a tad more respectable, getting them to the dreaded Nelson (111) mark before they were all out.

“I think, especially with the batting, we didn’t bring the intensity we usually bring when we play in East London,” explained Maketa.

“I thought we were a bit hesitant with the bat, hence we could say we had some soft moments, which is disappointing because we always start well against these guys.

“In PE, it was different in the sense that we still played with intensity which is something we can accept, where here [East London] we played with low intensity which is not a characteristic of our game and that’s where the disappointment lies.”

Colin Ingram, who missed the match with a mystery illness, was a big loss to the team and they hope he will be back for their next match at full fitness.

The Warriors will now hope they can get their campaign back on course against the Dolphins on Wednesday with the match getting under way at 6pm at the Sahara Stadium, in Kingsmead.

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