The Highveld Lions clinched the 4-Day Franchise Series in dramatic fashion, coming from behind in a season dominated by the Cape Cobras. They took the winning Warriors wicket with just nine balls of the season in hand. Championship-winning stuff indeed.
The Highveld Lions won the 2018-19 4-Day Franchise Series with the 10th last ball of the season in a display of daring and positive fighting spirit that would have made Sir Alex Ferguson’s cheeks glow evermore rosy. It was a truly great title-winning performance, which at the same time must have been gut-wrenching for the Cape Cobras, who seemed to be running away with the title all season.
Nandre Burger and Malusi Siboto shared seven wickets to help the Lions claim a dramatic 84-run win over the Warriors deep on the last day of their season finale in Potchefstroom on Thursday.
With the log-leading Cape Cobras having concluded their round 10 fixture earlier in the day – a drawn match with the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg – victory was the only option for Enoch Nkwe’s side. And they defied the odds to do exactly that and overhauled the Cape Town side who had led the standings for almost the entire season.
They did this against one of the most impressive teams too – the Warriors, a team that were also in contention for the title – until inclement weather dropped them out of the race in round nine.
The Eastern Cape franchise began day four at Senwes Park with the Lions declaring overnight on 292 for nine, meaning they had a target of 330 to reach in effectively a full day of cricket in the North West, although rain did briefly intervene.
The visitors suffered a double blow early on after Siboto (3-40) dismissed openers Eddie Moore (3) and Matthew Breetzke (9) with only 18 on the board.
He then got Lesiba Ngoepe (14) to leave the away side on 61 for three, and they managed to avoid any further loss until lunch, thanks to an 81-run fourth-wicket stand between Sinethemba Qeshile (39) and Yaseen Vallie either side of the break.
Burger (4-72) then began his work by removing both well-set men, the latter for an innings top-score of 74 (125 balls, 7×4) that left the Warriors on 155 for five.
Rain intervened at that point, meaning that five overs were lost, but upon resumption Nono Pongolo (2-36) got Sisanda Magala (13) and Glenton Stuurman (4) either side of Burger, dismissing Marco Marais (22) and then Basheer Walters (22).
Thomas Kaber did his best to save the game with an unbeaten 23 off 96 balls, but when Wihan Lubbe cleaned up Sithembile Langa for eight with his third delivery, the Lions were champions.
Warriors 403 (S Qeshile 76, SSB Magala 59 not out, TP Kaber 38 not out, EM Moore 36, M Marais 33, MP Breetzke 30; D Potgieter 4-54, MP Siboto 1-59, BC Fortuin 1-65) & 245 (MY Vallie 74, S Qeshile 39, M Marais 22, BD Walters 22; MP Siboto 3-40, N Burger 4-72, Z Pongolo 2-36)
Lions won by 84 runs