The Dolphins held off a determined fightback by the Cape Cobras to win their Ram Slam Challenge play-off in Durban by five runs and advance to the final against the Titans on Saturday.
With Cobras’ opener Richard Levi leading the way with a superb 85 off 43 balls, with six fours and seven sixes, it was a close-run thing, despite a powerful batting performance by the Dolphins’ top order setting the Cobras the daunting target of 179 to win at 8.9 an over.
Levi and Wayne Parnell immediately showed they were up for the challenge, with Levi taking 16 runs, with two sixes and a four, off the first over. The two went on to smash a record 77 runs in the powerplay and move on to 83 in the seventh over, when Parnell fell for 27 off 22 (4×4).
Andrew Puttick followed five balls later for three, and although Levi and Lesiba Ngoepe then put on 45 for the third wicket, the momentum slowed. When Levi holed out at long on off Cameron Delport in the 14th over, the run-rate had come down to a manageable 7.5, which reduced further to just a run a ball after 16.
But from the moment of Levi’s dismissal, the Cobras lost another five wickets for 41 runs, mostly taken in the deep off shots that need not have been played. The 19-year-old paceman Andile Phehlukwayo conceded just seven runs off his last two overs at the death to end with 2-28.
Earlier, the Dolphins must have been well satisfied with their offering of 178-3. It was built on a solid 99-run opening partnership between Delport (55 off 37) and Morne van Wyk (57 off 49) and embellished by Kevin Pietersen smashing 27 off 10 balls (2×4, 2×6) and David Miller taking 19 off the last over to end with 33 off 24 (1×4, 2×6).
There was humiliation for Parnell in this onslaught, when he was banned from bowling after sending down two no-ball full-tosses to Pietersen in the 18th over. He was taken off after four balls and Rory Kleinveldt had to finish an over which cost 18 runs.