Dwaine Pretorius struck four crucial blows to give the Lions the sweet taste of revenge as they beat the Dolphins in a Ram Slam T20 nail-biter at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Pretorius’ 4-22 gave him a personal best in the format, but most importantly included the wickets of David Miller, Dwayne Bravo and Ryan McLaren as the Lions clung on to win by six runs.
The victory was all the more satisfying for the fact that the Lions had lost to the Dolphins by one run in the second round of the competition – a defeat that clearly set the young side back as they went on to lose their next two games.
This victory moved them up to fourth on the table with 12 points from six games, and gave them fresh hope of catching the top three – they are now four points behind the third-placed Cobras, who the Lions will host at the same venue in a week’s time.
By contrast the Dolphins have now failed to win in four games, and although they remain in second place, they lead the Cobras by just two points, having played a game more.
While Pretorius’ bowling swung the game in the second innings, Alviro Petersen’s unbeaten 60 from 41 balls kept the Lions in the game during the first innings as they posted 145-6.
With Devon Conway (28) the only other real contributor, the hosts were unable to form any meaningful partnerships, as much because of their mistakes as the Dolphins’ good bowling – both Conway and Andre Malan were guilty of pulling long-hops straight to fielders.
With Morne van Wyk (20) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld putting on 45 for the first wicket while the ball was still hard, and Van Jaarsveld going on to score 42 from 28 balls, the Lions’ total looked short.
Aaron Phangiso pegged the Dolphins back by dismissing Van Jaarsveld and Khaya Zondo, but David Miller got himself in and put the visitors on track when he took 17 off an Eddie Leie over.
However, Hardus Viljoen pulled things back for the Lions with a quiet over that saw him finish with figures of 1-15 from four overs, and in the next over Pretorius cleaned up both Miller and Bravo to leave 23 runs required from the final two overs.
McLaren’s two fours off Lonwabo Tsotsobe in the penultimate over left 13 required off the last, which was whittled down to seven off the last two balls before Pretorius bowled McLaren to seal the game.