Cape Town - The Cape Cobras contrived to blow the
advantage given to them by Richard Levi’s superb innings, as the Dolphins clung on for a thrilling five-run victory at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead
that put them into the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge Final.
Andile Phehlukwayo was
once again the bowling hero at the death for the Dolphins, being given the 18th
and 20th overs to take 2/7 and also build the pressure that led to
the run out of Justin Ontong.
With Levi blitzing 85 from just 43 balls,
the Cobras went into the last five overs of their chase needing just a run a
ball with seven wickets in hand to win the play-off.
Although Levi had departed by that stage,
with plenty of batting to come the Cobras looked certain victors, but they went
on to lose five wickets for the addition of just 19 runs to grab defeat from
the jaws of victory.
The Dolphins will now travel to SuperSport
Park to take on the Titans in Saturday’s final (18h00 start), with
their belief undoubtedly buoyed.
After winning the toss and electing to bat
first, they saw Cameron Delport put up his first significant score of the
campaign as he scored 55 from 37 balls in an opening partnership with Morne van
Wyk (57) that was worth 99.
That set the tone, and allowed David Miller
and Kevin Pietersen to do what they do best once the openers had departed.
The pair hit two sixes apiece, with
Pietersen making 27 from 10 balls and Miller finishing unbeaten on 33 from 24
balls, as the Dolphins posted 178 for three.
No team has scored more than 179 in the
competition this season, and so it was clear that the Cobras faced a stiff
challenge, particularly with a lack of firepower in their middle-order.
Levi produced the big innings when they
needed it most, bludgeoning seven sixes in a brutal innings that saw him reach
50 in just 20 deliveries.
The Cobras romped to 77 without loss in the
power play, with Wayne Parnell (27) playing the supporting role, and, even
after Levi misjudged the length and pace of a Delport delivery to depart in the
14th over, the game should have been in the bag.
Yet the Cobras hit just two boundaries from
that point on - both of them by Lesiba Ngoepe (32) - and the pressure built up
progressively as a result.
It was then that Phehlukwayo became the
hero for the Dolphins – and not for the first time in this season’s competition
either – bowling two of the last three overs, during which he conceded just
seven runs off the bat and claimed two wickets, while Justin Ontong was also
run out in his final over.
The all-rounder is still four months shy of
his 20th birthday on March 3 next year, but will now have the opportunity to
showcase his growing skills and impressive nerve in South Africa’s most
high-profile domestic game on Saturday.