KwaZulu-Natal fought back from 23-4 to beat Eastern Province by 36 runs at the Diamond Oval on Saturday, to open their Africa T20 Cup pool C campaign with a victory.
Eastern Province were looking to all but seal a spot in the semi-finals after their 31-run victory over Griqualand West on Friday with Namibia their only remaining opponents, and Ngazibini Sigwili ripped through the top order, but rescue efforts from Sibonelo Makhanya, Andile Phehlukwayo and Kesh Maharaj got them to 150-6, before bowling their opponents out for 114.
Sigwili finished with figures of 5-18, and it was his four wickets inside his first two overs that left Natal on 23-4. South Africa U19 stars Makhanya and Phehlukwayo then put on 61 off just 45 balls, before Maharaj plundered 33 off just 11 balls to stun Eastern Province.
Despite an encouraging start from skipper JJ Smuts in response, he was just one of four batsmen to reach double figures, as regular wickets prevented them from gathering any momentum. This was largely thanks to Senuran Muthusamy, who had 4-12 from his four overs, to complete a brilliant turnaround considering their poor start.
It means both sides have a victory to their names, as KwaZulu Natal play their second game, against Namibia, on Sunday.
Griquas notched their first victory, too, beating Namibia by eight wickets, after losing to EP on Friday.
The offspin of Werner Coetsee, who took 4-10, and the pace of his namesake Jandre Coetzee, who took 3-28, restricted Namibia to just 138, with Craig Williams top-scoring with 38.
They had looked to be making a fight off it after a third-wicket stand of 54 between Pikky Ya France and Williams, but then they both batsmen in successive balls to Coetsee’s spin. Then wickets fell in clusters, stifling any momentum.
Reeza Hendricks (51 off 51) and Diego Rosier (54 off 27, 4×4, 3×6) knocked off the required runs with seven balls to spare.