The KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins had Jason Smith and Daryn Dupavillon to thank as they clinched an eight-run victory over the Eastern Storm in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The win secured a place in the T20 Knock Out quarter-finals for the Prenelan Subrayen-led side with one pool game to spare.
After losing the toss, the Dolphins were handed the prerogative to set a score and were pegged back twice within the powerplay, losing Thamsanqa Khumalo (5) and Grant Roelofson (18).
Although the scoreboard was ticking over, the Storm continued to make regular inroads, including Sarel Erwee (28), Marques Ackerman (23) and Khaya Zondo (25), who all made good starts before departing.
The most telling contribution in the innings came from the bat of former Western Cape-based all-rounder Smith, who scored an unbeaten 34-ball 45 (four fours) to help take the Dolphins to 155-6 in 20 overs.
Jurie Snyman recorded the best figures amongst the Storm bowlers, taking two wickets for 26 runs in his four overs.
Needing 156 runs to win and take top spot in Pool C, the Eastern Storm began positively at the crease with Danie Roussow, Sizwe Masondo (15) and Grant Thomson (38) helping their side to 97-2 in the 13th over.
Rossouw brought up his second half-century of the tournament, dispatching three fours and a six on his way to 53 in 50 balls. The opening batsman’s 68-run stand with Thomson looked to have laid the ideal foundation for the Storm to chase down the target.
This was before the Dolphins bowlers turned on the style in the last five overs of the innings, with Dupavillon, Ottniel Baartman (2-28) and Smith (1-12) combining to deadly effect to curtail their opponent’s ambition at the crease.
With six wickets falling in that period, Dupavillon led the charge with three wickets, to end with a return of 3-11 in his four overs, going at just 2.75 runs an over.
Going into the final over needing 13 to win, the Storm lost two wickets and saw their hopes of victory sail away as they finished eight runs short to record the first defeat of the campaign.
Both teams will be in action again on Sunday, with the Dolphins aiming to make it three out of three against the U19, while the Eastern Storm take on the North West Dragons for a place in the final eight.
Dolphins vs SA U19 (10:00)
Eastern Storm vs North West Dragons (14:30)
Phoo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix