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Lions stay alive with thrilling five-run win

File photo - Hardus Viljoen took 3 for 16 to help Lions defend 157 against Warriors Getty Images

With three league games left in the T20 competition, Lions kept themselves in contention for a playoffs berth with a five-run victory over Warriors in Durban. Lions defended 157 to rise to third, while Warriors remained in second place, seven points ahead.

Lions were off to a flier after Dominic Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen put on 76 for the first wicket. Hendricks was the quieter of the two, contributing a 27-ball 25, while van der Dussen scored an even 50, his 10th in T20s, off just 25 balls. They were dismissed in consecutive overs, leaving an increasingly fragile looking middle-order to mount a competitive total.

Lions were unable to keep pace with the openers as Colin Ackermann's offspin sparked a middle and lower-order collapse. They lost their last eight wickets for 48, with no batsman between Nos. 3 and 10 contributing more than 17, as the innings ended with a ball remaining.

Viljoen and left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin put Warriors in trouble early in their chase. They were reduced to 31 for 3 in the fifth over before Colin Ingram and Christiaan Jonker mounted a recovery. They shared a 59-run fourth-wicket stand, but then spin turned the match again as legspinner Eddie Leie took three wickets in five balls to reduce Warriors to 95 for 6 in the 14th over.

Andrew Birch's 30 off 19 balls kept Warriors in the hunt, leaving them with 34 to get off the last three overs, with three wickets in hand. They plundered 15 runs off the 18th over, but only eight came off the 19th. With 11 needed in the final over, Dwaine Pretorius took a wicket off the first ball, and conceded just six off the next four deliveries. With six needed off the final ball, Pretorius bowled Birch to secure a tense win.

Kevin Pietersen's 51-ball 79 went in vain as Dolphins suffered a seven-wicket defeat to Cobras, who achieved their 179-run target by seven wickets and eight balls to spare at Kingsmead in Durban. This was Cobras' second win in seven matches. The four points helped them narrow the gap to three points over fourth-placed Dolphins.

Pietersen hit three fours and five sixes in his knock to help strengthen the foundation laid by Morne van Wyk, who made 44. Pietersen drove the innings forward in the company of Khaya Zondo, with whom he shared an 89-run stand for the fourth wicket. Zondo contributed 40 of those in the team's 178 for 5. Rory Klienveldt picked up three wickets.

Cobras stuttered early when they lost Wayne Parnell in the third over, but their chase received a fillip courtesy half-centuries from Richard Levi and Dane Vilas. When Levi was dismissed by Imran Tahir, Cobras still needed 63 off 46 balls. Vilas found an able ally in Kieron Pollard, who made an unbeaten 31, to steer the team home.