JOHANNESBURG, February 24, 2023 – A high-quality century by Ryan Rickelton and a stout bowling effort were not enough to force victory as the DP World Lions had to settle for a draw in their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series match against the Dafabet Warriors at the DP World Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.

Rickelton’s brilliant 125 off just 112 balls ensured that the Lions only trailed by five runs on the first innings after the Warriors had won a good toss and elected to bat first on an easy-paced pitch, amassing 438 all out.

The Lions attack came out firing on the final day and reduced the Warriors to 187 for seven an hour after lunch to give themselves hope of a sensational win that would keep them in touch with the leaders of the four-day competition.

But young Matthew Breetzke, with an unbeaten century, and Beyers Swanepoel denied them as they took Warriors to 255 for seven at tea, when the teams shook hands on the draw.

“Today we tried to sneak up quietly on the Warriors and nab a few wickets at the end, we fancied chasing around 200 to 220 in the final session to win,” Rickelton said after the match.

“We did really well to get close, but some small moments did not go our way. With all the moisture around, the ball went soft quite quickly, after about 40 overs batting became quite easy.”

Of his own superb innings on the third day, Rickelton paid tribute to batting partner Lutho Sipamla, who scored a career-best 36 as they added 84 for the ninth wicket in a rollicking hour of strokeplay. They came together at 320 for eight, with the Lions still 118 behind, so their partnership meant the pressure was on the Warriors on the final day.

“Lutho showed great courage and stuck it out with me, he really played his part because without that partnership, we would definitely have been batting this afternoon to try and save the game.

“Batting at five was a bit different for me, with the ball being softer, but I just tried to navigate my innings and pick my moments to be aggressive. It was nice to be able to bat with a bit more freedom. I’m really comfortable in red-ball cricket, I trust my game. I have a good, strong foundation in terms of my technique,” Rickelton, who is hoping to return to the Proteas Test starting XI next week against the West Indies, said.

Temba Bavuma also warmed up for the Test series with an assured 67 off 103 deliveries, but one of the other great assets of this Lions side is one of the best opening partnerships in the competition in the form of Josh Richards and captain Dominic Hendricks.

Replying to the sizeable Warriors’ first-innings score, they put on 123 for the first wicket, Richards scoring 60 and Hendricks 62, to give the Lions the ideal platform.

Kagiso Rabada brought his class and strike-power to the final day as he took three for 26 in 12 excellent overs to give the Lions a sniff of victory, while Sipamla, who bowled with good control and obtained more movement than most other bowlers, took four for 77 in the first innings and two for 32 in the second.

The 16.08 bonus points obtained by the Lions consolidates their fifth place in the log, with three matches remaining.

The Lions next host high-flying Western Province at the DP World Wanderers from Sunday.