McKenzie guides Lions to Pro20
Lions 148 for 4 (McKenzie 73) beat Cape Cobras 147 for 9 (Philander 56*, Kruger 3-32)
Neil McKenzie was composure personified as he raced the Lions to a comfortable six-wicket victory with 14 balls to spare in the Pro20 final against the Cape Cobras at the Wanderers. The Cobras were always under pressure after superb Lions bowling ensured wickets fall at regular intervals as the visitors could muster just 147 for nine after being sent in to bat.
Garnett Kruger was fast and furious as he took 3 for 32, setting the tone for a brilliant effort in the field by the Lions. Alviro Petersen led a faultless catching display with four catches, including a magnificent effort to catch JP Duminy off a full-blooded pull. Tyron Henderson then came on and took two wickets in his first over as Benji Hector (17) and Henry Davids (21) tried to hit out after they had consolidated the Cobras innings with a third-wicket stand of 30.
A dodgy 45 for 4 then became a decidedly bleak 70 for 6 as Friedel de Wet and Eugene Moleon picked up the wickets of Wesley Euley (7) and Warren Swan (6). Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt stemmed the flow of wickets as they scored freely in their seventh-wicket stand of 40 off 34 balls, before strike bowler Kruger returned to dismiss Kleinveldt for 19 and he quickly added the wicket of Con de Lange for a duck in the same over.
Philander clubbed 32 runs off the last three overs, ruining star spinner Werner Coetsee's figures in the process, to race to 56 not out off 47 balls and at least give the Cobras a respectable if mediocre score. After Kruger's onslaught, Henderson gave nothing away to finish with brilliant figures of two for 19 in his four overs, while Moleon bowled three tight overs for 14 runs. de Wet provided penetration with two for 36.
Alan Dawson struck early for the Cobras when he caught-and-bowled the quick-scoring Lions opener Alviro Petersen for two in the first over, before McKenzie and Blake Snijman took control with their stand of 79 off 63 balls. After such a quick start, and with so many wickets in hand, victory was always going to be a formality thereafter and McKenzie's fine knock almost ushered the Lions all the way.
He fell with just two more runs needed, scoring a classy 73 off 55 balls, with eight fours and a six. Adam Bacher struck twice for the Cobras by bowling Snijman for 23 and having Henderson caught in the deep for 9, but Vaughn van Jaarsveld belted him for successive sixes to break the shackles and he had raced to 28 not out off 14 balls by the finish.
Left-arm paceman Charl Willoughby served the Cobras well up front with the new ball, conceding just 19 runs in his four overs, but the Lions scored briskly against all the other bowlers.
Ken Borland works for the MWP agency in South Africa