Warriors v Redbacks
There were a few people who thought that the Redbacks had a good chance to win this match. I had been eaten by fears and doubts since finding out that they were pitted against the Warriors in the semis. If you had watched all Warriors matches (I had) then you knew that the Redbacks were going to try and stop a tank from rolling with their mere hands. The only defeat the South Africans suffered was against Chennai, when they had to chase on a slowish spinnish wicket and fell 10 runs short after making it safely past the number of runs required to reach the semis.
This tournament has shown that you can always expect a surprise from the Redbacks. They sensationally won against all four competitors in their group, and maybe, just maybe, against all odds, they would have been able to lay the Warriors in chains. But the Saffas won the toss and chose to bat; as expected Shaun Tait immediately applied the first cut and removed Ashwell Prince, and the beast in the shape of Davy Jacobs roared in pain and anger and charged at the Saussies in the same ferocious manner in which he had also taken his previous enemies onto the horns.
A bloodshed followed, and after four overs the Warriors had stormed to 43. The Redbacks never recovered from this early onslaught, captain Klinger said at the presentation that the target of 176 was 20 runs too big. The pressure got to the bowlers and they bowled terrible lines and lengths, and the nervous fielders couldn't hold on to catches, the keeper missed a stumping, and when the chase begun there was always this nagging feeling of a looming defeat gnawing at the heart.
Harris, Klinger, Manou and Borgas fell victim to the pressure, Callum Ferguson stood firm and made 71, he's enjoyed an outstanding return from his injury and I can hardly believe how quickly he has slotted back into his role as a rock and anchor in the upper middle order, but he was given out lbw in an unlucky decision. The tailenders didn't have the power anymore to wrestle the asking rate down, which had eventually rocketed from 10 to 16.
|Callum Ferguson left absolutely no doubt about his soonish return to national duties (c) Getty Images|
Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rusty Theron bowled exceptionally well, Tsobie's four overs were absolutely crucial, for some reason the Redbacks didn't dare to attack him, although after him there were the infamous stranglers to come. The only one who really bled was Makhaya Ntini, but he just bowled two overs. Boje, Botha and Kreusch bowled at max. 8.50, and thus simply did not leak enough.
In comparison my great hope and mankind's savour Dan frickn Christian got absolutely murdered, he went at 15 an over and got hammered for 23 in the 20th, allowing Nicky Boje to make 22 from just 7 balls. Ouch, that hurt. At the other end of the scale Daniel Harris took 3 for 18 at 4.50, the silent hunter in the background emerged as a real killer in this tournament and only Tsobie could exhibit an even better economy.
Well well what shall I say. This match was the real litmus test for the Saussies and it mercilessly revealed the weaknesses of the team, the bowling is still too inconsistent for the real grand international honours and SA are really a bit dependent on their top order pair Klinger and Harris, who had laid the foundation for successful chases in earlier matches. I have to address Graham Manou's disappointing performance with the bat, it is something that has made me frown since the first match. IIRC he hadn't had a single fruitful innings and I can't wrap my head around him batting at three. But I also don't have any ideas about where to slot him in instead.
Apart from that I think Michael Klinger has led his troops really well (we shall spread the veil of silence over his idea to bring Aaron O'Brien on for the second over) and has made himself a name in many books now. He expressed his anticipation of a successful domestic season and literally said he hopes to take it by storm. I wish the Redbacks all the best, they should have taken plenty of experience and confidence from their Champions League adventure and I think they will especially approach the upcoming Big Bash with clenched fists and faces!
Let me finish this post with my last words on the match from Facebook:
"...That is the end of this huge campaign for our beloved little team from South Australia. They have beaten all teams in their group and surprised and amazed everyone who watched them. The boys can be proud of their performance, they did not only excel the Bushrangers :P but also beat Bangalore and the Highveld Lions, as well as Sachin's Mumbai Indians.
The Warriors are a fantastic team, powerful and stuffed with great players under the leadership of a very impressive captain, and I wish them all the best for the big final against Chennai, they certainly deserve to lift the trophy in front of their enthusiastic home crowd :) ..."
I would like to add that despite the 10-runs defeat CSK inflicted on the Warriors in the last match I deem the Jacobs troop the only team of the tournament that can defeat the Super Kings, as the cards will be shuffled from anew and the toss might again play a big role, and I am full of faith in Rusty & Co. The Super Kings on the other hand only got beaten by the Bushrangers via super over in the memorable Ashwin incident, and first of all Dhoni will not repeat this mistake and secondly they should hardly be able to walk with confidence after having already beaten the Warriors before.
In brief: it's gonna be a cracker of a final!
Please also have a look at Ian's Baggy Green Blog for a more analytical review of the Redbacks match.