Wesley Marshall and Senuran Muthusamy shone with the bat to help inspire the North West Dragons to a one-run victory over the Eastern Storm in Bloemfontein this past Sunday.
The narrow win confirms a quarter-final spot in the T20 Knock Out as the Dragons finish second in Pool C, behind the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, the Dragons got off to a solid start, despite losing two wickets in the powerplay, reaching the end of the sixth over on 51-2 with Marshall motoring.
The right-hander went on to bring up his sixth half-century, smashing six fours and three sixes for a 47-ball 73, as he partnered up with the in-form skipper, Muthusamy, for a crucial 48-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Although he lost wickets around him, Muthusamy played a real captain’s knock with an undefeated 62 off 38 balls (seven fours, one six) to anchor the Dragons’ innings late on, helping his side to a competitive 158-7 after 20 overs.
The Storm’s Jurie Snyman (3-16) and Khwezi Gumede (2-46) were impressive with ball in hand, making significant breakthroughs to keep the Dragons at bay.
With a simple equation of needing 159 runs for victory and progression from the group, the Storm found it hard to get the ball to the boundary, only managing a score of 36-2 in the powerplay.
Things didn’t get more accessible for the men from Benoni, as a Duan Jansen-led bowling attack picked up wickets at regular intervals, including the vital scalp of Snyman (33) that ended his 66-run partnership with Matthew Arnold (33).
Requiring 46 runs from the remaining five overs, the Storm showed some lower-order resilience, with Clayton August (25*) and Tumelo Tlhokwe (14*) giving their team a glimmer of hope.
The pair added 39 runs for the seventh wicket, including 16 runs in the final to go within one run of levelling the game, but it was not to be as Jansen’s 3-27 helped restrict the Storm outfit and seal the victory.
This result finalises the quarter-finals, with the Dolphins and Dragons joining SWD, Western Province, the Free State Knights, Northerns Titans, as well as Boland’s Rocks and the Warriors in the last eight.
The quarter-finals start on Tuesday, 19 October, with the final on Friday, 22 October at the Kimberley Oval.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix