Cape Town - Eddie Leie claimed his maiden five-wicket haul in Twenty20 cricket as he spun the Highveld Lions to victory over the Knights in a low-scoring Ram Slam T20 encounter at the Mangaung Oval.
With the Lions defending a total of 112 for seven, Leie returned career-best figures of 5 for 15 in four overs, as the Knights were dismissed for 92 in 19 overs.
The Lions thereby gave their campaign a much-needed shot in the arm as they moved on to eight points at the halfway stage, while the Knights are all but out of contention for a play-off place having lost all five games thus far.
Having previously only taken three wickets in an innings, Leie set a new record for the Lions on Sunday, with his return bettering the previous best figures of 4 for 9 that seamer Eugene Moleon took for the franchise against the Warriors in the 2004/05 season.
After Friday’s low-scoring thriller between the Knights and the Warriors at the same venue, both teams knew that the batsmen were likely to encounter inconsistent bounce and that runs would be at a premium.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the Lions waded their way to 38 for two at the halfway stage of their innings, before losing wickets with increasing frequency as they attempted to register a meaningful total in the latter stages.
Shadley van Schalkwyk was the main threat, taking 4 for 19, while the Lions were grateful to Dwayne Pretorius’ punchy knock of 35 from 28 balls which gave them something to defend.
As he had on Friday, Reeza Hendricks kept the Knights in the chase with his 32, which had the hosts on track as they reached the end of the 11th over on 53 for three.
However, Leie made the intervention required for the Lions when he bowled the opener, and then dismissed Werner Coetsee and Diego Rosier with consecutive deliveries in his next over.
The leg-spinner went on to grab another two wickets in his final over, including that of Andre Russell - the one batsman who could have resurrected the Knights’ chase.
Pretorius also contributed with the ball, taking 3 for 18, while Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up a couple of wickets and Aaron Phangiso proved difficult to get off the square, conceding just 12 runs in his four overs.