Jacobs and Birch on fire for Warriors

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Captain Davey Jacobs was on fire with the bat and rookie Andrew Birch picked up four wickets as the Chevrolet Warriors beat the Nashua Titans by 81 runs in the opening Standard Bank Pro20.

Jacobs scored a match-winning 71 not out off just 46 balls and then he took a catch and made two stumpings as the Warriors upstaged the defending champions by skittling them out for just 88 in reply to 169 for five.

Titans openers Blake Snijman and Gulam Bodi had the innings on a solid footing with their stand of 34 at better than a run-a-ball, but paceman Birch then destroyed the top-order as he took three wickets in six deliveries.

Keeping the ball on a fullish length and utilising some movement, Birch felled the three tallest oaks of the Titans' batting line-up -- Gulam Bodi (11), Martin van Jaarsveld (seven) and Faf du Plessis (nought).

Birch's burst, Du Plessis being bowled first ball by a beauty that zipped off the seam, through the gate and on to the top of off stump, ushered in a double-strike by Zander de Bruyn, who had David Wiese (four) and Snijman (21) both caught by Corbyn Dolley at deep square-leg in the same over.

Roelof van der Merwe (eight) then tried to cut a delivery from left-arm spinner Robin Peterson that was so wide he could barely reach it, managing to just get an edge through to Jacobs, although the batsman yelled his disapproval at the decision.

Justin Kreusch and Peterson then wrapped up the tail, with Birch coming back to claim his fourth wicket with the first ball of the 18th over.

Birch finished with four for 22, while De Bruyn had two for 20, Peterson two for 23 and Kreusch two for 16.

Jacobs had earlier rescued a dour Warriors innings as he laid into the bowling at the death.

The Warriors started well on a pitch calling for all-out attack, but the even-headed Titans kept their composure and claimed four quick wickets to reduce the home side to 112 for five in the 17th over, before Jacobs hit five successive sixes in the last two overs.

De Bruyn proved the value of his experience as he opened the batting and scored 32 off 23 balls, while Colin Ingram showed his talent with 35 off 25 deliveries as the Warriors looked set for a big score as they reached 74 for two after nine overs.

But De Bruyn, stumped by Heino Kuhn, and Kreusch, bowled for five, both failed to pick quicker deliveries from leg-spinner Du Plessis, and with captain Pierre Joubert picking up the wickets of Ingram and the dangerous Arno Jacobs (11), the Titans certainly held the upper hand.

Captain Davey Jacobs knew the Warriors' run-rate had to increase and the wicketkeeper/batsman cleared the boundary with regularity in the last three overs in his match-turning innings.

Jacobs hit the first two balls of the 18th over, bowled by Van der Merwe, for six and four, before smashing the last three balls of Ethy Mbhalati's penultimate over for six. The 26-year-old then hit Van der Merwe for two more sixes in the final over as the Warriors posted the sort of total that is always tricky to chase in the evening on the coast.

Du Plessis was the best of the Titans attack with two for 23, while Joubert finished with the fine figures of two for 25.
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