WESTERN Warriors coach Andy Tennant believes his side are back on course for a successful Tilney T20 Blitz title defence after watching them secure a commanding 40-run win over Caley Highlanders at sunny Titwood on Friday evening.
It was a must-win match for the Glasgow-based region following their seven-wicket loss to the Eastern Knights last time out.
And Tennant’s men delivered in style, racking up an imposing 191-4 before restricting their rivals to 151-4.
Mo Awais put the Warriors on course with a dashing half-century before Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Calum MacLeod carried on where they had left off during the national side’s successful Tri-Series campaign in Holland.
In reply Riyaad Henry picked-up the key wickets of Rory Johnston and Craig Wallace.
Tennant declared: “I’m very happy with the performance – it was a massive improvement on our previous outing.
“Our batting all the way through was very impressive with Mo Awais getting us off to a great start and Richie giving good support.
“Calum then came in and accelerated to get us to what I thought was a pretty impressive total.
“Our bowlers then kept things tight and did a good job but it was our fielding which maybe pleased me most. Our ground fielding and catching was excellent and it really was a step change from where it had been.”
After being sent in to bat, the Warriors suffered an early setback when Matthew Cross was bowled by his Scotland team-mate Safyaan Sharif.
However, a half-century stand between Awais and Berrington put the Warriors on course, the former racing to 54 from just 29 balls with eight boundaries and two maximums.
Awais, back on his old Titwood stomping ground, was in full flow when he miscued a Leask delivery and was caught by Greaves.
The wicket failed to stem the flow of runs, though, as Berrington and MacLeod compiled the second significant partnership of the innings, the pair adding 65 in seven overs before Berrington was caught by Leask off Brock Ditchmen for 45.
MacLeod, though, continued to take the attack to the Highlanders with an array of typically flamboyant strokes to reach 65no from only 37 deliveries with six fours and three clearances.
Sharif was the pick of the visiting attack with 2-28 but most of the Caley bowlers came in for some pretty hefty punishment.
Their batters fared little better as Leask, promoted to open, was bowled by Ross Lyons for just 13.
There was an impressive century stand between the Forfarshire duo of Johnston and Wallace but the visitors struggled to keep up with the required rate.
— Western Warriors (@Warrior_Cricket) June 22, 2018
Johnston’s 58 came from four balls fewer while Wallace hit his 53 from 42 deliveries, striking two sixes in the process.
Henry struck to remove both batsmen with consecutive deliveries in the eighteenth over but by then Caley’s hopes of a successful chase were already over.
Henry finished with 2-23 while most of the Warriors bowlers were economical.
Tennant added: “This win puts us right back in contention to defend our title and now we can look forward to our next game, also against the Highlanders when we’ll push ourselves again.”