Symes puts Lions in semis after tense chase
Lions 134 for 5 (De Kock 32, Symes 27*, Patterson 2-21) beat Yorkshire 131 for 7 (Jaques 31, Phangiso 2-23, Tanvir 2-25) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
You need 43 off 43 with seven wickets remaining to make the semi-finals and knock three competing teams out. What do you do? If you are a South African side, you nearly choke. The ingredients were all there. Commanding position in a crunch game, the threat of rain, Duckworth-Lewis calculations.
And Jean Symes took the Lions fans through the full range of emotions at their home ground. He allowed the asking-rate, which had started at around six-and-a-half, to touch ten after the 18th over. Even as the familiar word started doing the rounds, Symes, on 6 off 16, slammed four of his next six deliveries for boundaries to carry Lions to the knockouts of the Champions League Twenty20, and with one final blow down the ground, sent Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Yorkshire out of the tournament.
It had been Lions' game to lose after their bowlers had not allowed the Yorkshire run-rate to approach seven at any stage in keeping them to 131. Yorkshire had begun their defence well in sending back the Lions openers with 31 on the board but Quinton de Kock had steadied the chase as he hit boundaries just when Yorkshire managed to build some semblance of pressure.
De Kock's wicket, a top-edge ending in the wicketkeeper's gloves off the last ball of the 13th over, was to precipitate the drama. Symes, having taken Lions home against Chennai Super Kings in the last over as well with a counter-attacking blitz, struggled to get the ball off the square. The 14th and 15th overs produced a run each and suddenly, the asking-rate was above eight.
Azeem Rafiq, with a spell of 4-0-14-1, was largely responsible for the urgency in Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale's manner now. But his decision to give the next over to Adil Rashid was to even matters again. Rashid, having gone for 22 in two overs, was taken for 14 more in the 16th by Dwaine Pretorius, playing ahead of the veteran Zander de Bruyn.
Yorkshire refused to give up, though. Steven Patterson had Pretorius caught in the deep for 25 off 14. Iain Wardlaw, playing only because Yorkshire's two first-choice quicks - Ryan Sidebottom and Moin Ashraf - were injured, conceded just three in the 18th over. Oliver Hannon-Dalby, the second replacement playing his first T20 game, kept Thami Tsolekile to a single off the first two balls of the 19th but Symes now decided it was time.
With 19 neeed off 10, Symes made room and lofted over sweeper cover for six, and smashed the next delivery down the ground for four. He lifted the second ball of the 20th over mid-on to finish the job that Lions' bowlers had started so well.
Yorkshire's batsmen, heaving and flailing, had found the combination of a fast Wanderers pitch and a balanced Lions attack too much to handle. Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso impressed again, Lions captain Alviro Petersen got Yorkshire's top-scorer Phil Jaques, but it was the home side's four quick bowlers who used the pace and bounce in the pitch to tie down Yorkshire all through.
Andrew Gale and Jaques did add 54 upfront, but that partnership never looked in control, with numerous swings-and-misses, especially from Gale. Nevertheless, Jaques managed to pull and cut for a few fours, and with Gale also hacking away some runs, Lions did have a base. It was the introduction of the fourth fast bowler, Pretorius, that ended Gale's scratchy effort, as the Yorkshire captain top-edged a slog to the wicketkeeper.
Joe Root came out looking to hit every ball, and Phangiso soon had him sweeping straight to deep square leg. The expected rain arrived to force a 15-minute interruption after which the part-timer Petersen, giving himself a second over of offspin, bowled Jaques after the batsman missed a slog-sweep.
Gary Ballance looked the man most likely to lift Yorkshire out of their stupor, but he thick-edged a slog off Phangiso to short third man to depart for 17. Yorkshire's lack of depth meant Rashid, with a highest T20 score of 36, was in at No. 6 and when Adam Lyth swung Chris Morris to deep square leg in the 17th over, Yorkshire's any realistic chance of a late charge was over.
Their inexperienced attack gave Lions a real scare, but this time, there was to be no choking for a South African team.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo