Johannesburg - Opening batsman Quinton de Kock paved the way as the rampant Highveld Lions booked a home final with a crushing 54-run win over the Dolphins in their last round robin match of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge at the Wanderers on Thurday night.
VIDEO: RAM SLAM T20: Lions v Dolphins
The Lions, who dominated the first round by winning seven of their 10 matches, will face either the Titans or the Warriors in next week's final. With this win the Lions are also assured of their spot in the lucrative Champions League tournament later this year.
Chasing 196 to win, after the Lions reached 195/4, the Dolphins got off to a poor start, with opener Divan van Wyk and Cameron Delport falling in the first two overs.
Cody Chetty and Vaughn van Jaarsveld managed to stabilise the innings for the visitors, but Lions captain Alviro Petersen had Van Jaarsveld run out for 22 to break the 49-run partnership.
Four balls later, Chetty was stumped by wicketkeeper De Kock for 28 runs, after moving down the crease to an Aaron Phangiso delivery, as the Lions bowlers took charge in the hefty run chase.
Dolphins skipper Daryn Smit put up a lone fight down the order, contributing 41 off 25 balls, but he received little support as the visitors were restricted to 141/9.
Fast bowlers Hardus Viljoen and Chris Morris bagged two scalps each to spearhead the Lions attack.
Earlier, De Kock got off to a superb start with fellow opener Rassie van der Dussen, sharing 67 runs for the first wicket before paceman Kyle Abbott had the debutant caught behind for a well played 27 off 17 balls.
De Kock reached his sixth career half-century from 31 deliveries, smashing seamer Delport for three sixes off four deliveries in the sixth over.
And while Gulam Bodi was trapped leg-before by Ravi Bopara for only seven runs, Petersen joined De Kock at the crease as the duo took control of the innings.
De Kock was eventually removed in the penultimate over when he attempted to go big and was held by David Miller, who took a diving catch in the deep.
The opener made 97 runs off 61 balls, including three fours and eight sixes, falling just short of his second ton in the shortest format and reaching the milestone of 1 000 T20 runs along the way.
Petersen, who was dropped by Bopara on 33, remained unbeaten on 55 off 29 balls, after racing to his half-century off only 27 deliveries.