JJ Smuts’ career-best 107 not out led his side to a seven-wicket victory in their T20 Challenge clash against the Dolphins at Buffalo Park on Wednesday.
Despite posting the highest-ever T20 Challenge total at the ground, the Dolphins’ bowling attack could not match their batting display, as they start to lose grip on a knockout spot.
Kevin Pietersen strolled to the crease earlier than expected, after Basheeru-Deen Walters bowled Cameron Delport (5) on the last ball of the first over. The Ex-England superstar started off strong. He smashed two sixes and two fours off nine balls and continued his onslaught to reach his second consecutive half-century of the tournament.
Pietersen’s partnership with Morne van Wyk (77 off 52 balls ) proved vital to steadying the ship, as the pair put on 145 thanks to yet another brilliant performance from the Dolphins captain. He now tops the standings for the most runs in this season’s tournament with 344. Van Wyk was later removed for Walters’ second scalp in the 16th over shortly after passing the 150 mark.
Robbie Frylinck fired his side to 177-2 with a handy 22 off 9, but he couldn’t hold on any longer and was bowled by Sisanda Magala on the last ball of the 17th over. Magala (2-39) struck again two overs later, as the ball crashed into Pietersen’s stumps after a dominant 81 off 46 balls.
Walters (3-46) picked up his third wicket in the 20th over as the Dolphins posted 216-5, the second-highest total of this tournament thus far and the fifth-highest in T20 Challenge history.
The Warriors needed an aggressive start from their captain JJ Smuts if they aimed to make history by chasing down the highest ever T20 Challenge total at Buffalo Park. After losing Clyde Fortuin for a duck at the end of the first over, Smuts led by example with help from ex-Proteas batsman Colin Ingram.
The pair did well to put on 107 runs, as Ingram reached a half-century, but was trapped lbw by Proteas star Imran Tahir on the second last ball of the 10th over on 55 off 26 balls.
Smuts continued to batter the Dolphins’ bowlers as he reached his best T20 score. His unbeaten 107 off 58 deliveries is his first T20 century for his franchise and his second career T20 century, beating his 102 not out for EP in the Africa T20 Challenge this season. The 217-3 was the second-highest chase in T20 Challenge history, as the Warriors claimed a historic seven-wicket victory.
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