Andrew Birch clinched a victory that the Warriors had threatened to throw away as their Ram Slam T20 opener against the Knights at Newlands went down to a Super Over. Colin Ingram’s unbeaten half-century should have given the Warriors a straight-forward victory in a rain-shortened affair, but he saw his side concede 39 runs in the last two overs to allow a dramatic tie. Birch had not been given the opportunity to defend 22 in the last over, but he was handed the ball for the Super Over and immediately dismissed the Knights’ loan players, Ryan McLaren and Theunis De Bruyn, to leave the Warriors needing just one run.
Ingram duly hit the second ball from Dillon Du Preez for four, ensuring that the Warriors walked away with the points. With heavy morning rain delaying the tournament opener by an hour and 40 minutes the game was reduced to six overs per side, but Ingram still found time to maintain his record of scoring at least a half-century in every innings this season. Having notched up three fifties and a century in his four Momentum One-Day Cup innings, Ingram opened his T20 account with 52 not out from 21 balls in a Warriors total of 81/2.
That put the Knights on the back foot after they had won the toss and elected to bowl first, and they took another knock when Birch removed Tumelo Bodibe and Reeza Hendricks in the first over of the chase. When the Knights went into the final two overs needing 39 to win it appeared as though all hope was lost, but Ayabulela Gqamane and Sisanda Magala both made fundamental errors, bowling a no-ball apiece as well as three wides, and McLaren capitalised as he hit boundaries off both free hits. McLaren needed five to win off the last ball but could only manage four to finish unbeaten on 34 from 14 balls, giving him plenty of confidence as he took strike at the start of the Super Over.
However, it was Birch who had the defining impact, as both McLaren and De Bruyn were caught as they attempted big heaves.
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