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February 14, 2011
The Dolphins became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals with a third consecutive victory before registering their first defeat of the competition. At the other end of the table, the Knights are out of semi-final contention, not having won a single game from their four matches.
Their best chance at victory came in the rained out encounter against the Lions on Wednesday in Potchefstroom. The Knights put on a modest 137 for six in their innings with Reeza Hendricks the highest run-scorer with 47. Ethan O'Reilly, Alfonso Thomas and Paul Harris all conceded less than six runs an over and the only other damage came from Johan van der Wath who hit 29 off 21 balls.
The Knights bowlers looked up to the task, removing Alviro Petersen for three and Jonathan Vandiar for eight. The Lions were 12 for two when the rain came down and no further play was possible.
In Durban, the Dolphins secured their place in the final four with a nine-run win over the Cobras on Friday. Devon Conway led the way, scoring 62 off 60 balls. He shared a 92-run third wicket partnership with Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who scored a bruising 53 off 38 balls. Daryn Smit's quickfire 22 off 11 balls took the Dolphins to 154 for 3. Vernon Philander was the most successful Cobras bowler, claiming the wicket of David Miller for a duck and finished with 1 for 23.
The Cobras lost Richard Levi, who went without scoring, in the first over but Andrew Puttick and Herschelle Gibbs kept them in the game with 32 and 31 respectively. The pair were slightly sluggish is their approach and it kept the Cobras behind the run rate. Owais Shah chipped with 28 and when he departed in the 16th over, the Cobras needed 55 to win in 26 balls. Imran Khan's four overs went for just 13 and Kyle Abbott was economical in picking up two for 21. Dane Vilas tried to resurrect the challenge but the task was too much.
The final nail got smacked into the Knights coffin when they lost to the Warriors on the same day in Kimberley. Things started well for them when they restricted the Warriors to 152 for nine. Davy Jacobs and Ashwell Prince went cheaply again, both to Ryan McLaren. It was the 46 off 35 balls from Jon-Jon Smuts and 57 from 42 balls from Justin Kreusch that restored respectability. McLaren ended with four for 16 after mopping up the tail.
The Knights looked comfortable in the chase at 99 for two in the 14th over. Kreusch removed Rilee Rossouw for 30 and that started the rot. Nicky Boje accounted for Ryan Bailey's wicket and then Rusty Theron bowled a typical spell at the death to make sure the Warriors could defend their total. He took two wickets in three balls in the last over of the match and the Warriors won by six runs.
On Sunday, the Titans earned a commanding seven wicket win over the Dolphins in Centurion. The Dolphins looked like fish out of water when in the third over, they were 1 for 3. Devon Conway was run out by an athletic Henry Davids, David Miller was caught off the bowling of Andre Nel and Loots bosman fell to Albie Morkel. A hat-trick of ducks sat at the top of the Dolphins scorecard. Ahmed Amla scored 44 in testing circumstances and Yasir Arafat added 17 batting at number eight to take the Dolphins to 103 for 6.
The Titans made light work of the target, reaching it in the 16th over. Davids' impressive showing continued with 45 off 32 balls, Jacques Rudolph scored 29 and Farhaan Behardien 24. Morkel and Wiese, who both impressed with the ball, were there at the end to see the Titans home. They move to second on the standings after their win.
Bowler of the week: Ryan McLaren has been in sublime form in this competition and his four-wicket haul against the Warriors should have been a match-winning one. He leads the standings with eight wickets at an average of 10.12.
Batsman of the week: Devon Conway was the key man in the Dolphins' success over the Cobras, the match that secured a place in the knockouts. His 62 earns him this week's award.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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