The CSA T20 Challenge delivered another compelling contest as the Lions beat the Warriors by seven wickets on Saturday, and will now take on the impressive Dolphins in Sunday’s final, Pranay Rangra reports
The scenic Kingsmead looked even more beautiful baked in sunshine as the pitch was again on the slower and lower side.
The men from Port Elizabeth won the toss and decided to bat first, a decision which has mostly resulted in a win as chasing in this tournament has been all but tough.
Well, Saturday’s result was different!
The Warriors capitalised on the powerplay as opener Wihan Lubbe played aggressively in a destructive opening stand of 71 with compatriot Jon-Jon Smuts.
The Lions mounted a respectable comeback taking four quick wickets for a paltry 24 runs in an effort to put the brakes on the Warriors’ scoring, as the indifferent bounce took precedence on the surface.
A late surge from young Tristan Stubbs, scoring 37 of just 26 balls, helped the Warriors end their innings on 141-6, as he punished Proteas superstar KG Rabada – taking 16 runs from his final over, the penultimate of the innings.
The Lions’ reply was equally befitting as they reached a healthy 59 from the first eight overs thanks to a steady partnership between openers Ryan Rickelton and Reeza Hendricks.
What followed was similar to the Warriors innings as the Highveld team also lost two quick ones after the steady start with the demons in the pitch resurfacing.
Thankfully for the Lions, the experience of captain Themba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen came to the fore as they resurrected the innings with a good partnership of 61 before Van der Dussen fell, albeit a little too late for the Warriors.
Despite the contest entering the last over, the team in red reached home with not much sweat as Wiaan Mulder hit the winning runs courtesy of a mighty maximum six.
Truth be told, the two best sides will contest Sunday’s final in the Dolphins and Lions.