Bavuma 104 trumps Smuts' 121 to help Lions complete double

JJ Smuts celebrates a half-century MSL

Lions 203 for 4 (Bavuma 104, van der Dussen 73, Birch 3-36) beat Warriors 192 (Smuts 121, Fortuin 4-27, Pretorius 3-35) by 11 runs

Both captains scored hundreds, but JJ Smuts' 121 off 60 was not enough to better Temba Bavuma's 104 off 63 and the Lions won the final of the CSA T20 Challenge by 11 runs at the Wanderers.

Chasing Lions' lofty 203 for 4, Smuts played a virtual lone hand with a boundary-laden century that took his team to within touching distance of their target after they had been down and out at 161 for 8 with 18 balls remaining. But Smuts would not be stopped, storming to a 51-ball hundred in the 18th over - beating his own record of 54 deliveries for the fastest T20 hundred by a Warriors batsman.

With only No. 11 Sithembile Langa for company going into the penultimate over with 34 needed from 12 balls, Smuts turned down three singles in a row and then smashed 16 off the next four - including a no-ball above waist height that was lifted cleanly over the leg side for six. That left Warriors needing an improbable 18 from the last over, bowled by Migael Pretorius, but when Smuts cracked the first ball over long-on for his seventh six, Warriors might have dared to dream.

But Smuts top-edged the next delivery, and though Nono Pongolo and Reeza Hendricks collided in the outfield while trying to take the catch, Pongolo was able to hang on, bringing a heart-stopping finale to an end. Pongolo's catch under pressure ensured that Lions secured their second trophy of the season, having also won the 4-Day Franchise Series in similarly nail-biting fashion in January.

It meant that Smuts' century was upstaged by Bavuma's maiden century in T20s that set up what was ultimately a winning total. Bavuma's efforts were ably backed up by Rassie van der Dussen, who contributed 73 runs off 41 balls to a record 165-run third wicket stand that set up Lions' innings after they were put in to bat by Warriors and slipped to 30 for 2.

Van der Dussen's knock, which included three fours and five massive sixes, continued his trend of vital runs in T20 tournament finals. He also scored 59 not out to guide Jozi Stars to victory in the inaugural Mzansi Super League last year and contributed a vital, unbeaten 44 in the final of the Global T20 Canada last year.

Smuts' and van der Dussen's partnership beat the long-standing record of 154 held by Henry Davids and Benji Hector for Cape Cobras against Eagles in Kimberley in 2006-07. It was also the second-highest stand for any wicket in the franchise T20 tournament, with the pair especially brutal on Langa, thrashing him for 69 in four overs, another competition record and one that surpassed the 0 for 57 by Junior Dala for Titans against Knights in 2016-17.

Set a massive task in chasing down the second-highest total of the tournament on a late-season track, Warriors looked like they were going to roll over even before the chase could get going as the outstanding left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, one of the stars of the competition and its leading wicket-taker, ripped through their top order.

He was well supported by Pretorius as the match appeared to be headed for an early finish. Smuts finally found some support from Onke Nyaku, who contributed 27, as they added 73 for the sixth wicket to get the score to 129.

Although there was not much support from there, Smuts took the game till the last over, aided by that expensive 16-run penultimate over from Lizaad Williams. But Pretorius enticed the vital false stroke with just 12 needed and Pongolo held on to the skier from the key batsmen to end Smuts' valiant knock and send Lions into delirium.

Warriors 2nd innings Partnerships

1st5GL CloeteMP Breetzke
2nd6JT SmutsGL Cloete
3rd8JT SmutsM Marais
4th24JT SmutsS Qeshile
5th13JT SmutsLC Ngoepe
6th73JT SmutsO Nyaku
7th10ACR BirchJT Smuts
8th22JT SmutsSSB Magala
9th9JT SmutsJ de Klerk
10th22JT SmutsS Langa