Port Elizabeth - Rusty Theron took two wickets in the opening over to send the Warriors on their way to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka’s Wayamba Elevens in their opening match of the Airtel Champions’ League T20 at St. George’s Park on Saturday.
Theron reduced the visitors to 2/2 after the latter had won the toss and then came back to bowl effectively at the death to finish with the outstanding return of 3/23 in his 4 overs. It earned him a well deserved man of the match award.
Together with fellow Proteas Johan Botha and Makhaya Ntini he made sure that Wayamba only scored 30 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in the last four overs to keep the target down to a very manageable 154.
Jeevantha Kulatunga (59 off 44 balls) and Kushal Perera (39 off 24 balls) did a good job in restoring the Wayamba innings and setting a competitive target.
The Warriors chased down the target in a highly professional manner on the back of half-century partnerships between captain Davy Jacobs and Colin Ingram and then between Justin Kreusch and Mark Boucher.
Ingram and Jacobs got the Warriors well ahead of the required run rate and then Boucher broke the back of the target in the 14th over when he hit two sixes and a four with the six balls going for a total of 21 runs.
Theron was part of the Proteas’ squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies but did not get an official game and both he and the uncapped Ingram have put their names forward for future selection.
Ingram showed tremendous awareness of where Sri Lanka had put their boundary fielders and started with a succession of classic straight drives before working the ball to fine leg when Wayamba brought the fielder in the latter position into the circle.
Boucher played his first T20 match since being left out of the Proteas’ starting XI against the West Indies in the limited overs format and responded with an unbeaten 40 off 26 balls after taking the first 10 balls to settle in after a period of inactivity.
The impressive feature of the Warriors’ top order was the way they took on Wayamba’s trio of international spin bowlers including the unorthodox Ajantha Mendis and this augurs well for South African cricket generally.
The only way Wayamba could win was for their spinners to make major inroads and both Mendis and the experienced Ragana Herath were restricted to a wicket apiece in conceding 25 and 18 runs respectively.