van Wyk century steers Knights into final
Knights 215 for 6 (van Wyk 109, Tahir 4-24) beat Dolphins 207 for 9 (Miller 63, Coetzee 3-30) by 8 runs
A century from Morne van Wyk and a strong bowling performance from the Knights helped them beat the Dolphins by eight runs in the second leg of their MTN40 semi-final in Durban. The Knights will play the Titans in the final next Friday after they successfully defended 215. The match was delayed due to a wet outfield and reduced to 35 overs a side.
The Dolphins chose to field first, in overcast conditions with some juice in the pitch for the bowlers, but two of their three seamers couldn't exploit the assistance to their advantage. Jon Kent and Quinton Friend were both expensive in their opening spells and only Kyle Abbott showed some control, giving away 20 runs in his first five overs.
van Wyk enjoyed a fruitful first ten overs, after battling for most the season in this format of the game. His first four was a strong flick on the leg side and he hit boundaries off anything too full, too short or too tempting on the pads. His half-century came with a six over long-on, off 31 balls. Reeza Hendricks was a mere observer at the other end and played across the line to Imran Tahir, to give the legspinner a wicket in his first over.
Tahir and Mthokozisi Shezi pegged the Knights back and gave away 26 runs in seven overs. Shezi went wicketless but Tahir picked up a second. Rilee Rossouw attempted a careless pull and was caught by Abbott in the deep. Ravi Bopara bowled well during the Powerplay and didn't allow van Wyk or Dean Elgar to settle. Elgar played with patience for his 30 and could have pushed on with van Wyk but skied a Bopara delivery to give the England international some reward for tight bowling.
van Wyk accumulated runs quietly in the middle period, rotating the strike almost unnoticed. Even the fine edge he got that came off Daryn Smit's gloves and raced away for four looked controlled. His century came in the 28th over when the Knights run-rate had dipped under six. Tahir slowed the scoring rate even further with a double-strike in his last over. He enticed Ryan McLaren into a big shot that only carried as far as Friend and had van Wyk stumped. Adrian McLaren was run out off the next ball. Johan van der Wath scored 18 vital runs off the last over, bowled by Bopara, which included four consecutive fours.
Imraan Khan and Ahmed Amla gave the Dolphins a brisk start in reply, but both fell early. Imraan sent a van der Wath delivery into the heavens and McLaren did well to keep his eye on it and take the catch. Amla went two overs later, trapped lbw by Victor Mptisang. Neither Jon Kent not Vaughn van Jaarsveld could find their stride and both big hitters were dismissed cheaply.
At 81 for 4 in the 16th over, the Dolphins looked likely to drown. Bopara and David Miller shared a 76-run fifth wicket stand to resurrect their team's challenge. Bopara was the hunter-gatherer, rotating the strike and allowing Miller to play his natural, aggressive game. Miller did not have many opportunities to lash out, but when he did, he struck the ball cleanly. When Bopara was caught by Obus Pienaar off Mpitsang, the Dolphins chase fizzled out.
Glen Adicott called for a suicidal run and sacrificed himself to keep Miller at the crease, but 12 balls later Miller was out. Jandre Coetzee was the man who dismissed Miller and then removed Daryn Smit off the next ball, to take his match tally to three. Abbott and Friend were left to score 19 runs of the final over, a task that proved too tough.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent