Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2014-15 November 26, 2014

Cobras, Lions and Knights primed for progress

ESPNcricinfo staff

Cobras held on to top spot in South Africa's domestic twenty-over competition table after dominating Warriors, who remain rooted to last place. The latest round of fixtures has seen the table split in half and confirmed Cobras, Lions and Knights' progress into the final week while Warriors, Titans and Dolphins are out of contention.

Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick won the match for the Cobras in the first 16 overs when they posted 140 for the first wicket. Both raised their half-centuries and Levi climbed to second-highest on the run-scorers' charts with his 75 off 53 balls, his third fifty of the campaign. He was also the first taste of limited success Warriors had on the night when he skied Lundi Mbane to long-on.

Mbane accounted for Puttick in his next over and Warriors pulled Cobras back, conceding only 25 runs between overs 16 and 19. Kieron Pollard ensured the total tipped over 180 when he took 24 runs off the final over, including a hat-trick of sixes, to spoil Mbane's otherwise impressive figures.

But for all the Warriors efforts at the end with the ball, they were hapless with bat in hand. Mthokozisi Shezi and Dane Paterson reduced them to 3 for 7. Recovery was not possible as George Linde and Sybrand Engelbrecht shared seven wickets between them as the Warriors were bundled out for 115 with 11 balls remaining.

It was far less one-sided in Potchefstroom , where Lions' one-run win over Titans kept them in second spot, nipping at Cobras heels.

Quinton de Kock was due to partner Chris Gayle at the top of the order, but Rassie van der Dussen was named in the Lions' starting XI instead and scored the competition's second ton, off 60 balls to rescue an innings that had been at 16 for 2. His knock means Lions are the only franchise to have centurions in their ranks, Gayle being the other. Neil McKenzie contributed 47 in the 117-run third wicket stand with van der Dussen as only Ethy Mbhalati conceded at less than eight runs an over.

Titans were set a target of 180 and were off to a decent start thanks to a 57-ball 69 from Heino Kuhn. He and Henry Davids, who remains the competition's top run-scorer, posted 63 in nine overs before Eddie Leie had Davids stumped. Leie made quick inroads after that, removing Graeme van Buuren, and playing a part in Qaasim Adams' run-out to leave Titans 70 for 3.

Cameos from Heinrich Klaasen and David Wiese threatened Lions, but Lonwabo Tsotsobe dismissed them both. Wiese's wicket came in the final over, which began with Tsotsobe defending 15 runs. He conceded seven off the first three deliveries, took a wicket with the fourth, but Darren Sammy hit him for six off the fifth. With two runs between Titans and victory, Tsotsobe had the last laugh though as he had Sammy caught at short cover to give the Lions a tense win.

Tsotsobe's 11 wickets in the competition so far have him in second position on the wicket-takers' list behind four bowlers with 12. Among them are Cobras' Linde, Lions' Leie and Knights' Andre Russell and Shadley van Schalkwyk, who shared six wickets in a target="_blank">39-run win over Dolphins .

Knights were in early trouble in Kimberley at 26 for 2, but Reeza Hendricks' 69 laid a platform for Russell to take off from. The West Indian scored 50 off 19 balls to lift the Knights total over 160 and spoil a Dolphins effort which had largely been disciplined. Only Dwayne Bravo conceded more than eight runs to the over, while Craig Alexander and Robbie Frylinck cost only 50 runs in their eight overs.

But the Dolphins batsmen showed none of the same mettle. They were reduced to 6 for 2 and 63 for 5, which put the target beyond them. Russell's 3 for 17 came in 21 balls and all the Knights' bowlers who put in more than one over were among the wickets. The Dolphins title defense has effectively ended, but a tussle remains between the top three teams to see who will automatically qualify for the final and who will need an extra game.

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