The Warriors once again showed their ability to chase down almost anything as they beat the defending champion Titans by two wickets with a ball to spare in a thrilling start to the season in their Momentum One-Day Cup match at Centurion on Friday night.
Having chased down a record 354 in the corresponding fixture last season, the Warriors needed 328 on Friday night and were set on their way by a blazing 101 off just 74 balls by opener Jon-Jon Smuts, who shared a commanding second-wicket stand of 133 off 126 balls with young Yaseen Vallie, who scored 52.
After a horror start in the field, the Titans regrouped and seemed on course for victory when they reduced the Warriors to 230 for six in the 41st over.
But Simon Harmer and Andrew Birch showed that they have serious pretensions as batsmen as they lashed 89 off the next 50 balls.
Harmer was trapped lbw for 42 by Junior Dala in an excellent penultimate over, umpire Shaun George perhaps being alone in believing the batsman did not get anything on a suspiciously leg-side delivery, and Rowan Richards made a good fist of defending eight in the last over.
The left-armer got it down to three needed off the last two balls when Basheer Walters lashed him powerfully through extra cover for the winning boundary. Birch finished on 55 not out off just 28 balls, a great contribution by the diminutive seamer.
The Titans were indebted to some late heroics themselves after they were sent in to bat, their total being boosted by a phenomenal unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 119 off just 71 balls between Grant Thomson and Qaasim Adams.
Thomson, who was not expected to play a role for the Titans this season but was included for his Momentum One-Day Cup debut because of the unavailability of all-rounders David Wiese, Chris Morris and Albie Morkel, hammered a wonderful 98 not out off 71 balls, while Adams, who has really grown as a finisher for the Titans, produced a fine hand of 65 not out off 39 balls.
The Titans’ decision to promote Mangaliso Mosehle to the opening berth was a partial success, with the wicketkeeper/batsman scoring 49, but needing 81 deliveries to do it. Dean Elgar, who moved down to number four, scored a fluent half-century.
But the Titans failed dismally to produce the basics in the field, Smuts being dropped twice, ground fielding errors costing crucial runs at the death and the bowlers too often being wayward or bowling the wrong lengths.