T20 Challenge

Knights end losing streak, beat Lions

2016-12-09 23:31
Corne Dry (Gallo Images)

Potchefstroom - The Knights ended a seven game losing streak after beating the Highveld Lions by three runs via the D/L method in their T20 Challenge clash at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Friday night.

After restricting the Lions to 125 for eight, the Knights reached 112 for two with two overs to go before the heavens opened up and cut short what was shaping up to be a thrilling climax.

It should never have been so close as the Knights’ batsmen never got out of second gear.

The Lions in no way deserved to get anything out of this match after their poor showing with the bat, but might count themselves a little unlucky as their bowlers were just starting to exert themselves.

The Knights were always favourites heading into the penultimate over but in this sport, you just never know.

The visitors were full value for their win and will be relieved to have ended a losing streak that started in their second match of the season.

Their bowling and fielding was as good as it's been all season. Some nerves towards the end should not take away what was a complete performance.

The Lions' bowlers had little to work with and with a diminutive total to defend, tight and disciplined bowling was going to be needed. Hardus Viljoen (1-25) clearly did not get the memo as he bowled 13 runs worth of wides in the first two overs.

The big quick, who is on his way to England after signing a Kolpak agreement to play for Derbyshire, did get some early reward when he dismissed the Knights’ only credible batsman of the season for a duck. Patrick Kruger would have been kicking himself after he chopped on without troubling the scoreboard.

That early breakthrough did not lead to the collapse the Lions needed as Rudi Second (52 not out) and Leus du Plooy (39) contributed 81 for the second wicket.

Both batsmen treated this chase like a 50-over game as they accumulated their runs largely through ones and twos with the occasional boundary.

The fact that the Warriors could chase this score down without breaking a sweat was the result of a combination of excellent bowling and poor batting.

They restricted the Lions to 125 for eight, regularly picking up wickets and never allowing the home batsmen to settle.

In truth, the Lions played a large part in their own demise. You don’t have to have the cricketing brain of Geoffrey Toyana to know that they were well below par with the bat.

Apart from the lower-order all-rounders, Willem Mulder (35) and Dwaine Pretorius (22), not one Lions batsman enhanced his reputation tonight.

Their innings was curtailed in the fourth over as two run-outs in the space of five balls removed the two top-scoring Lions batsmen this season.

First Rassie van der Dussen (12) and then Mangaliso Mosehle (0) were sent packing in infuriating fashion. Temba Bavuma (20) was present for both acts of self-destruction.

The Knights’ bowlers hunted in a pack tonight without their usual alpha male. Marchant de Lange watched on as Dillon du Preez (1-25), Corné Dry (2-27) and Mbulelo Budaza (1-10) all bowled magnificently to give their batsmen a more than gettable target.

It looked as if Second and Du Plooy were going to complete the job themselves but another inside edge cost the Warriors their second wicket in the 17th over. This time it was Du Plooy who played onto his own stumps off the bowling of Pretorius (1-13).

The real winners tonight were the Dolphins who are still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Since one of the two teams above them, the Cape Cobras and the Lions, will be dropping points by virtue of them playing against each other, they will be buoyed by this lifeline.

The fact that that they play the Knights in their final game only adds to the intrigue.

So the Lions and Cobras will battle it out in what is effectively a quarterfinal clash. The winner will progress and the loser will have to cast an anxious eye to Durban.

The Lions had a golden opportunity to cement their position in the knockout rounds. They will not get any favours down in Paarl on Sunday.

Read more on:    highveld lions  |  knights  |  t20 challenge  |  cricket
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