A maiden franchise century by Sinethemba Qeshile helped the Warriors consolidate their position at the top of the One-Day Cup standings with a hard-fought seven-run DLS win over the Highveld Lions in East London on Friday.
The teenager, playing in his first full season for the Eastern Cape franchise, crunched an unbeaten 121 off 105 balls (13 fours, 3 sixes) to help his side amass 309 for nine at Buffalo Park.
There was also an important 78 (84 balls, 9 fours) from Colin Ackermann in a match that was affected by rain.
The visitors then reached 166/5 in 28.0 overs when rained stopped play, forcing out the calculators and some recalculations that changed the target to 284 in 41 overs.
And despite a valiant unbeaten 116 (103 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes) by Dominic Hendricks and Nicky van den Bergh’s 72 (62 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes) the Lions fell agonisingly short.
It means the joint defending champions now have four wins from five games to lead the standings halfway into the regular season.
And they were full value for their win thanks to the brilliance of the fast-maturing Qeshile, The right-hander came in to bat at No. 6 with his side in huge trouble on 63 for four.
Together with Ackermann they put on 160 for the fifth wicket, with the 19-year-old Qeshile then hitting out to end unbeaten at the end.
Aaron Phangiso was the pick of the bowlers with three for 48.
The Lions too lost early wickets as they slumped to 31 for three following a good early burst by Andrew Birch (3/50). But from there onwards, they put on a real fight through the 125-run fourth wicket stand of Van den Bergh and Hendricks.
The former fell before the rain had intervened and a double strike by Jon-Jon Smuts (3/63) either side of the stoppage then proved pivotal.
Although Hendricks fought till the death – he brought the equation to 23 needed off the final over – the runs proved too many as the hosts held their nerve.
Above: Sinethemba Qeshile during the Momentum One-Day Cup match between Warriors and Lions at Buffalo Park. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)