Standard Bank Pro20 February 28, 2007

Lions win in late scamper

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The Lions won yet another last-ball thriller when they beat the Dolphins by just two wickets in their Pro20 match at Kingsmead.

Needing nine runs from the final over and two from the final delivery, Dolphins left-armer Yousuf Abdullah bowled a bouncer at Lions tailender Eugene Moleon which hit the batsman on the helmet and deflected over the wicketkeeper's head allowing Moleon and fellow tailender Garnett Kruger to scamper through for the winning runs.

Opener Blake Snijman anchored the Lions' run chase for the first 17 overs with a career-best 69 from 46 balls keeping his team alive even when they slumped to 35 for 4 in the seventh over chasing a victory target of 166.

The home side had veteran opener Doug Watson to thank for their total of 165 for 6. Having been regularly overlooked in cricket's most explosive format, Watson belted an impressive 62 from 43 deliveries while fellow opener Imraan Khan (25) and Hashim Amla (36) also made significant contributions.

But inspired death bowling from Tyron Henderson and Gerhard de Bruin put the skids under the Lions closing overs and only 25 runs accrued from the final five overs when a total in excess of 180 had seemed likely.

The Lions' run chase was similarly scuppered early on when Abdullah trapped danger men Alviro Peterson (2) and Neil McKenzie (1) lbw with sensational, inswinging yorkers and then had Vaughan van Jaarsveld caught for four.

But a stand of 61 between Snijman and Justin Ontong (20) for the fifth wicket kept the Lions' hopes alive and a brilliant contribution of 35 from 24 balls by Dumisa Makalima nudged the game their way. But without a brace of sixes from off spinner Werner Coetsee, who had earlier bowled brilliantly to concede just 28 from his four overs, the Dolphins would still surely have prevailed.

The Lions now move to the top of the table with consecutive last-ball victories while the Dolphins ponder the possibility of another miserable Pro20 series without a victory from their opening two matches.

Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agency