Lions only unbeaten team after week two
Two wins in three days saw the Lions stay the only unbeaten team in the MTN40. They beat the Dolphins by four wickets in a rain affected encounter in Potchefstroom on Wednesday night, and then beat the Cobras by 80 runs on Friday.
The Dolphins innings was built on contrasting 69s - a quick one from Loots Bosman (69 off 36 balls) and a sedate one by captain Imraan Khan (69 off 89 balls). Ravi Bopara's 37 (off 46 balls) helped the Dolphins to 243 for seven. Once again, the Lions relied on an allround effort from the bowlers, with wickets shared amongst six of the seven who ran in. Richard Cameron (2/25) was the only one to get two scalps, and Friedel de Wet (1/20) was the most economical. Paul Harris bowled his full eight overs and had a decent return (1/33) to bolster his bid for a World Cup call up.
Stephen Cook (68 off 73 balls) and Alviro Petersen (37 off 26 balls) put on 61 for the first wicket as the Lions started well. The heavens opened with the Lions on 127 for three after 22 overs, and the target was revised to 189 off 30 overs. Robbie Frylinck's big hitting (22 off 7 balls) ended the match with nine balls to spare.
In Paarl, the Lions stepped up a gear to earn a bonus point from their win over the Cobras. The visitors' innings was quickly in tatters as they found themselves on 36 for four in the 13th over. Monde Zondeki's (2/37) double strike did the bulk of the early damage. Neil Mckenzie (56 off 100 balls) dug deep to rescue his men, and late bursts from Thami Tsolekile (38 off 39 balls) and Frylinck (32 off 14 balls) saw the Lions to 187 for seven.
The total wasn't a roaring one, but the Lions defended it with the venom that the Cobras lacked. The men from Cape Town were skittled out for 107 in 34.3 overs. Ethan O' Reilly (2/12) started the rampage, but it was the Lions' spinners who had the most success. Aaron Phangiso (3/34) and Harris (2/18) ripped through the Cobras middle and lower order to hand the Lions a big win.
In Centurion, the Titans beat the Dolphins by 11 runs in a match that was settled by Duckworth/Lewis method. A lengthy rain delay after play had started shortened the match to 27 overs per team. The Titans batted first and notched up a solid 202 for seven thanks to swift contributions from Blake Snijman (68 off 51 balls), Jacques Rudolph (32 off 26 balls) and Farhaan Berhardien (38 off 23 balls). All the Dolphins bowlers were hit around the park at more than six runs an over.
The Dolphins were off to a flier putting on 49 in six overs, for the loss of Loots Bosman (24 off 21 balls). Ahmed Amla's 48 off 38 balls kept them in the game but Roelof van der Merwe (3/32) and Faf du Plessis (2/33) had other ideas. That gave the Titans their first win of the competition.
In Friday's final match, the Knights smacked the Warriors by 128 runs at Port Elizabeth, to record the highest winning margin in this season's competition so far. The Knights made 199 for eight in their innings with Ryan Bailey's 64 off 82 balls the top score. Makhaya Ntini (3/26) may have heard whispers asking why he had retired, as he bowled with all the buoyancy of a young man.
The Warriors batting was toothless and they collapsed to 71 all out. The first four wickets fell with just two runs on the board. Ashwell Prince (27 off 64 balls) and an ill Davy Jacobs (12 off seven balls) were the only batsmen to reach double figures. All the Knights bowlers enjoyed impressive figures, with Johan van der Wath (3/15) and Ryan McLaren (3/19) the highest wicket-takers.
The Warriors, who are defending the title, are still winless after losing their third match of the competition on Sunday. They went down to the Dolphins by 22 runs in Pietermaritzburg. The Dolphins innings was a blitzkrieg from two bats. Loots Bosman smashed 150 runs off 86 balls and was aided by Khan's 114 off 111 balls. The two put on 253 for the first wicket in 30 overs and two balls - the highest in South African domestic cricket since the forty over format was launched last season. The Warriors bowlers incurred whiplash as the Dolphins amassed 311 for six.
Kyle Abbott (4/36) drove home the Dolphins advantage by plucking the early wickets of Jacobs and Jon-Jon Smuts, but Justin Kreusch took the Warriors to the brink of a surprising win with bruising century. His 118 came off 86 balls, but he lacked enough support. Arno Jacobs (44 off 51 balls) provided him with some assistance, but in the end he lost too many partners. Ravi Bopara took five for 63 as the Warriors were dismissed for 289.
In the week's last match, the Titans beat the Knights by 54 runs in Benoni. The Titans put on 228 for eight. Despite being 24 for two in the fifth over, they rallied around Faf du Plessis (81 off 80 balls) and Rudolph (45 off 46 balls). Dean Elgar had the best return for the Knights with two for 27.
Andre Nel (2/26) was back to his usual fearsome self as he inflicted early wounds on the Knights. He removed Morne (0) and Juandre van Wyk (1) in consecutive overs. At 26 for four, it looked like the Knights would fold, but Bailey (60 off 67 balls) and Elgar (63 off 65 balls) kept the Knights in the hunt, but it they couldn't quite recover from their early setbacks. CJ de Villiers took two for 47 and Mario Olivier (2/20) mopped up the tail as the Titans earned a comfortable win. They lie top of Pool A with 9 points from three matches.
Batsman of the week: For showing that his prowess with the bat has not waned, his claims for an international recall have not dimmed, and for providing sheer, bludgeoning entertainment, Loots Bosman and his murderous 150 off 86 balls gets the nod this week.
Bowlers of the week: The Knights duo of Johan van der Wath and Ryan McLaren took six wickets between them to leave the Warriors reeling on 31 for six. They were instrumental in bowling the defending champions out for 71, and securing a massive 128 run win for the Knights.