The Cape Cobras, Dolphins and Warriors claimed victories in low-scoring encounters in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
In the morning game, Morne van Wyk won the toss and inserted the Lions on a fresh pitch. Ryan McLaren played his first T20 match for the coastal franchise and got off to a great start. He opened the bowling and returned figures of 1-25 in four overs. Dwayne Bravo also had a good day with the ball, taking 2-24 in his four over ration.
All the bowlers did a decent job and their combined efforts reduced the Lions to 121-7 in their 20 overs. It was a below par total, but the Lions boast the best attack in the country and if anybody could defend the target, it would be them.
The Dolphins lost a few early wickets, but David Miller walked in at No 4 and showed why he’s in the Proteas setup. He paced his innings perfectly, finishing undefeated on 42 off 37 deliveries. His innings guided the side to a five-wicket victory with five balls to spare and kept the Dolphins slim hopes of retaining their title alive.
The afternoon match saw the Cape Cobras extend their lead at the top of the table with an eight-run victory over the third place Knights. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the Cape franchise reached 145-4 on the back of Richard Levi’s 64. The innings takes him to the top of the run-scoring charts and must be putting pressure on the national selectors to give him a recall.
All the Knights’ bowlers were disciplined, but Shadley van Schalkwyk was once again the stand out performer. He showed excellent control over his variations and finished with 1-24 off his four overs.
In reply, there were mixed fortunes with bat and ball. Mthokozisi Shezi was in poor form, conceding 43 runs in four wicketless overs. Robin Peterson, fresh from national duty, was on the opposite end of the scale. His 3-21 ultimately secured the narrow win, despite Rudi Second’s unbeaten 33-ball 50.
The Lions and Knights defeats keep the race for qualifying spots open. The Dolphins look a far better side with the return of their Proteas and the Ram Slam T20 Challenge looks to be heading for an exciting conclusion.
The evening game saw the Warriors clash with the Titans. They tied their first match this season and the winner would be one step further away from receiving the wooden spoon.
Colin Ingram won the toss and elected to bat first. After an early wicket, the skipper came to the crease and fought hard for a 44-ball 40. Christiaan Jonker finished the innings with a bang. His 49 off just 29 balls elevated the total to a defendable 148-7.
The opening pair of Henry Davids and Heino Kuhn got the chase off to the perfect start, scoring 48 and 31, respectively. After their departure, wickets fell at regular intervals and the required run rate started to climb.
Rusty Theron showed that he’s back to his best. He provided a master-class of death bowler, finishing with 2-14 in his for overs to secure a 20-run victory for the men from Port Elizabeth.
Report compiled by Gareth Stevens.