The Northern Cape Diamonds were left to rue what might have been after they crushed the Pool C winners, KwaZulu-Natal, by 31 runs in the final match of the Kimberley leg of the Africa T20 Cup at the Diamond Oval on Sunday.
It required a boundary off the last ball of the match that was reduced to 18 overs per side to prevent the Diamonds from claiming a winning bonus point.
The bonus point or lack thereof made no difference in the end as the Kimberley outfit could do no better than finish third after Eastern Province had claimed the runners-up position with their victory over Namibia.
But it might have been a very different story had they not produced a below-par performance in their opening match against Eastern Province. In the end it was what cost them a possible Pool victory.
KwaZulu-Natal will now join KZN Inland and Northerns in the semi-finals next month along with the winner of Pool D which is to be played at Bloemfontein’s Mangaung Oval this weekend. The contenders in Pool D are Free State, SWD, Gauteng and Kenya.
Whatever their fortunes in Pool C the Diamonds have certainly made a good start to their new career under the name of the Northern Cape.
The big difference in winning their last two matches has come from the fact that at least one of their top-order has gone past 50 and laid the platform for what was to follow. Sunday’s total of 156-4 in 18 overs would have been worth about 175 in a full 20 overs innings. Aubrey Swanepoel set up the total with his innings of 61 (44 balls, eight fours and a six) and he shared the key partnership of 88 with Reeza Hendricks which was more than twice as much as any other stand in the match.
When it came to their turn to bowl, the Diamonds took three wickets in the five powerplay overs, two of which went to Jan Frylinck who was having his first outing of the weekend. He took 2-2 in his first over including David Miller for his second first-baller of the tournament. Miller, batting at No 3, would undoubtedly have welcomed the chance to play a proper innings before leaving for India at the end of this week but his highest score was only five from his three innings.
Keshav Maharaj, who has impressed with his ability to make an impact at the back end of the innings, denied the Diamonds their bonus point with his unbeaten 45 (25 balls, six fours and a six).
A feature was the brilliant outfielding of the home side with Patrick Kruger and Gerhardt Abrahams making fine boundary catches.