All-round Gayle blows Dolphins away
Cody Chetty (68) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld had forged a recovery for Dolphins with a 71-run stand for the third wicket but Gayle's introduction into the attack turned the game in Lions' favour. He took a wicket in each over of his spell to finish with 4 for 36, breaking the Dolphins middle order by accounting for van Jaarsveld, Chetty, Jonathan Vandiar and Khaya Zondo. Prenelan Subrayen struck a few blows towards the end of the innings to lift the Dolphins total to 172.
Lions began their chase with an 18-run over from Daryn Dupavillon but, by the fourth over, were struggling at 36 for 3. Gayle and Jean Symes' 89-run stand put the chase back on track and both batsmen finished with half-centuries. While Gayle struck 56 off 38 balls, Symes finished on an unbeaten 50-ball 58 to guide Lions to a win in the 19th over.
Kieron Pollard's all-round contribution with bat and ball was the difference between the Cobras and the Titans in Johannesburg. Pollard led the Cobras final assault with the bat with 72 runs at a strike rate of 200, and was the architect of their 80-run plunder off the last six overs of their innings. He then took three wickets in two overs to derail the Titans' chase.
The Cobras were set up by Richard Levi, who faced just 34 balls for his 81 runs, but the Titans may have thought that was as bad as it got for them. They got rid of the Cobras' top and middle order cheaply, with their slower bowlers doing the bulk of the containing. Roelof van der Merwe conceded just 14 runs in three overs while Dean Elgar took 3 for 20 and bowled a full quota to keep the Cobras quiet.
That was before Pollard made his entrance. He spoilt the figures of Ethy Mbhlati and Rowan Richards and ensured the Cobras posted a run more than the Knights did in the early game.
Unlike the Warriors, who collapsed in their chase of 206, the Titans looked set to get to their target of 208. Openers Elgar and Henry Davids were merciless in equal measure and shared in a first-wicket stand of 151 inside 15 overs. Again, it was Pollard who changed proceedings.
In his third over, he had Elgar caught at long-on, Davids off against a slower ball and also accounted for Darren Sammy with a short ball- all in the space of seven deliveries. The Titans needed 45 runs off the last three overs but could only manage 30 in what became a tense finish.
Warriors' batting woes from the first-class and fifty-over formats have carried over into the shortest version of the game as well. Overseas signing Craig Kieswetter, who made 51, was the only batsman in their line-up who managed a score of more than 20 as they were beaten by the Knights in their campaign opener.
Set a tall 206 for victory - a target built on the back of Knights' opening stand of 78 runs and topped off by Diego Rosier's second T20 half-century - the Warriors were never in the chase. Dillon du Preez's four wickets dismantled them - his first pair dismissed the openers and second bored into the tail. In between that, all the other members of the Knights attack enjoyed success, except the slower bowlers, with the medium-pace of Malusi Siboto and the spin of Werner Coetsee costing more than eight runs an over.
Those numbers only indicate indiscipline of the Warriors in the first half of the fixture. They used seven bowlers and none of them conceded at less than seven runs to the over, with Jon-Jon Smuts hauling in the best return of 2 for 28.
Smuts' strike pegged the Knights back after they were off to a speedy start thanks to Rudi Second and Gerhardt Abrahams. A mid-innings wobble saw them lose four wickets for 42 runs and they seemed to be losing their way but Rosier put them back on track. He shared in a 67-run stand with Obus Pienaar, which came in just 3.2 overs, to tip the Knights total over 200 and ensure they took maximum points from the first match of the campaign.