Beyers Swanepoel played a significant contribution with both bat and ball at the end of both innings to help the Warriors defeat the defending champion Rocks in a dramatic T20 Challenge match in Potchefstroom on Thursday evening.
Swanepoel, who had hammered 22 off 10 balls as the Warriors scored 51 runs in the final four overs of their innings, was called upon to bowl the final over of the match with nine runs to defend. He did so well, bowling four dot balls, despite having to defend nine runs.
Janneman Malan was stranded on 68 not out off 52 balls due to Swanepoel’s heroics with the ball, as the remaining Rocks batters lacked the required calmness to assist the opener.
After a shaky start that saw them fall to 33/3 in the seventh over, the Warriors managed to recover. Once again, 20-year-old Jordan Hermann performed admirably, steadying the ship before speeding in the second half of the innings alongside Matthew Breetzke, who was given a fresh role in the middle order.
Both players had to maintain their composure during the middle period, but once it became apparent that their team would not be bowled out, they added pressure on the Rocks bowlers with deft stroke play. Hermann, who scored 67 not out against the Knights in a similar position in the first encounter, smashed six fours in his 44-ball innings, where he compensated for not hitting boundaries frequently by running well between the wickets.
Breetzke, who is as quick, was the ideal partner, and the two of them shared an 89-run fourth-wicket stand.
The Warriors closed their innings on a high note, with Breetzke finishing unbeaten on 61 off 33 balls with six fours and two sixes, and Swanepoel smashing two fours and a six.
The younger Malan performed a nearly ideal anchor role for his team, which at one point appeared to be pursuing a bonus point victory. With Leus du Plooy (25) and Pieter du Plooy (16), who had suffered a horrific fall in the field earlier, batting for the Rocks in the first half of the inning, the Rocks appeared to be in control.
After Pieter Malan was removed by Ziyaad Abrahams, though, the Rocks consistently lost wickets. Malan’s 17 off Glenton Stuurman in the 18th over appeared to have clinched the victory for the Proteas. Malan’s tenth T20 half-century maintained the Proteas in front, and he appeared to have seized control of the game.
Swanepoel, with nine to defend, locked down Malan and Hardus Viljoen in the final over, securing victory for the Eastern Cape side, who, as expected, celebrated jubilantly.
Dafabet Warriors 165/4
Gbets Rocks 162/6
Warriors triumphed by three runs.