Eddie Leie took 5-15 as the Highveld Lions crushed the Knights by 20 runs with an over to spare in a low-scoring Ram Slam T20 match in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The win gives the Lions their second success in five matches, while leaving the Knights firmly at the bottom of the pile without a victory.
It casts doubt on their resilience after putting themselves in a good position by restricting the Lions to 112-7 with an admirable bowling performance. But they fell woefully short of a run-rate of just 5.6 an over. On Friday night, too, also in Bloemfontein, they lost by one run to the Titans while trying to chase down a meagre total of 128.
The Knights will feel even more aggrieved by the fact that they started well in the chase, with Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw putting on 27 in the first three overs. Then Lonwabo Tsotsobe got the ball rolling with a caught-and-bowled dismissal of Rossouw for 11. At 30-1 after four overs, just 62 runs were scored in the next 15 overs. Tsotsobe followed up with the wicket of Tumelo Bodibe (4) and Dwaine Pretorius chipped in by dismissing Theunis de Bruyn (0).
Leie, working brilliantly in tandem with Aaron Phangiso, strangled the Knights completely. They stayed together for eight overs, during which the five wickets fell for a combined total of 27 runs. Phangiso was unlucky not to claim a wicket, but he played his part by conceding just 12 runs from his four overs. Leie’s leg-breaks claimed Hendricks (32 off 35), Werner Coetsee (7), Diego Rosier (0), Dillon du Preez (2) and Andre Russell (13), giving him his best return in T20 cricket.
The Knights should have been confident after the medium pace of Shadley van Schalkwyk led the attack on the Lions batting, taking 4-19. Dwaine Pretorius (35 off 28) and Alviro Petersen (22 off 28) were the top scorers.