The Six Gun Grill Garden Route Badgers made history when they won their first-ever trophy after an epic battle against the AET Tuskers at the Oval in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday. The Badgers defeated the defending champions by 11 runs in a pulsating final.
The Badgers who were requested to bat posted 253/7 in their allotted 50 overs. The visitors got their innings going thanks to an 80 runs partnership for the first wicket between Matthew Christensen (46 from 77 balls; 5×4) and Blayde Capell (38; 48 balls; 5×4). Christensen and Jhedli van Briesies (43 from 44 balls; 1×6, 3×4) also added 58 for the 3rd wicket. Sean Whitehead (25 from 28 balls; 1×4) and Pheko Moletsane (38 from 35 balls; 1×6, 3×4) also added a vital partnership of 58 for the 6th wicket at the back-end of the innings. Stefan Tait (2/28) and Malcolm Nofal (3/48) were the most successful bowlers for the Tuskers.
The run chase of the Tuskers never kicked on despite a stand of 98 between Yaseen Vallie (59 from 87 balls; 7×4) and Michael Erlank (38 from 57 balls; 5×4) for the 3rd wicket. The dangerman, Tiaan Koekemoer added 50 from 59 balls; 1×6, 3×4) before a perfect yorker dismissed him by the Badgers’ bowling hero and top wicket-taker the competition, Basheer Walters who finished with figures of 4/46 (10 overs). He received good support from the skipper Onke Nyaku (2/29) and Sean Whitehead (1/34 in 10 overs). The Tuskers were dismissed with the last ball of the match for 242.
What made the performance of the Badgers significant was that they won the final without three of their key players, Jean du Plessis, André Malan, and Marcello Piedt who were all injured.
In his response, Mr. Rudy Claassen, the President of SWD Cricket congratulated the Badgers for this historic achievement. “This victory is long overdue, but I would like to congratulate the coaching staff, players, and the behind-the-scenes back-room staff on this performance”. “You played what we stood for and made us proud”, he concluded. He also thanked the sponsors and loyal supporters for their passionate support during the campaign.