Colin Ingram © Gallo Images
Warriors ace batsman Colin Ingram believes that his team's victory over the VKB Knights in the Momentum One Day Cup qualifier on Monday came as the result of the hard work put in over a number of years.
The match was scheduled to take place at the Manguang Oval in Bloemfontein on Sunday, 26 March, but was abandoned due to an unsafe pitch after just 28 overs with the Warriors on 88-3. The match was then shifted to the reserve day on Monday, 27 March, where the Warriors emerged victorious by 18 runs in a thrilling encounter.
"Our guys really stuck together well and came back with a lot of purpose the next day. It was a great victory under those sort of circumstances and I just felt that the team really put it all out there. It showed the growth we have as a squad from the work we have put in over the last two or three years and it was a fantastic game for us," explained Ingram.
Winning the toss and batting first, the Warriors managed to post 249-8 in their 50 overs with Ingram (83) and opener Gihan Cloete (60) posting a valuable 102 for the second wicket on a tricky batting surface.
"It was quite nerve-wracking having been out there the day before where it was going up and going down - you didn't really know what was going on. I just wanted to go out there, have a good look and give myself the best chance to get in.
"I think growing up on tough wickets on the coast really helped me to grind it out. We knew that if we had runs on the board it would put us in a great position," described Ingram.
Allrounder Kelly Smuts was left out of the Warriors line-up for the reserve day of the clash, with quick Anrich Nortje preferred - a selection which proved to be an inspired one as he removed both the Knights' opening batsmen.
"Anrich Nortje on his debut did really nicely, he bowled nice and quickly, providing some good energy with a few bouncers as well. I thought he accepted the challenge tactically well and definitely helped with the cause," said Ingram.
A 110-run third wicket stand between David Miller (52) and Keegan Petersen (83) looked to have taken the game away from the Warriors, however some superb death bowling from the Warriors saw the Knights finish on 231-6.
"David (Miller) has been in unbelievable form, especially in one day cricket. It's been his best season - I think he has got about three or four hundreds, including some international ones, so we know how dangerous he is in a chase. I thought Andrew Birch coming back to knock him over was a big moment in the game and from there the incoming batsmen struggled on a difficult wicket.
"All credit to our seamers for hanging in there - Basheer Walters and Sisanda Magala bowled the last four overs and only went for about 24 runs," added Ingram.
In what has been a quiet Momentum One Day Cup by his own lofty standards, Ingram's man-of-the-match performance came at a critical time as the Warriors booked a spot in the final against the Multiply Titans on Friday, 31 March.
"I've always been someone who wants to contribute, so without me contributing it makes me hungrier and drives me on, so it was fantastic to contribute in a big game. Hopefully it puts me in some good nick for Friday's match - which I am really looking forward to," concluded Ingram.