The ground stage of the MTN Domestic Championship has been completed with the Eagles, Titans, Cape Cobras and Dolphins securing their place in the semi-finals
The Cape Cobras made heavy weather of what should have been a comfortable run chase against the Warriors at Newlands, but Henry Davids held his nerve with an unbeaten 85 to steer them home with three balls to spare. He added an opening stand of 129 in 32 overs with Andrew Puttick before the Cobras lost their way and slipped to 163 for 5. However, Vernon Philander hit two important boundaries before Davids hit the second ball of the final over for another. The Warriors' batting had also stumbled from 119 for 1 as they struggled to force the pace against Charl Langeveldt, Rory Kleinveldt and Claude Henderson.
Two days later the Cobras had a more comfortable 53-run success against the Lions at Paarl to confirm their progress. Davids was again to the fore with 116 off 140 balls, including nine fours and three sixes to lift the Cobras to 214 for 6. The Lions promoted Andre Nel to No. 3 in the run chase, and with impressive results as he clubbed 58 off 45 balls to push them to 104 for 1 in the 21st over. However, the pursuit fell apart from that point as Philander made two vital breakthroughs and Francois Plaatjies went through the middle order.
The Dolphins moved into the semis when their match against the Titans failed to produce a result in Durban. Rain hinder proceedings throughout, cutting the Titans innings to 33 overs where Faf du Plessis's 47 off 45 balls boosted them to a competitive 153. The Lions were tottering on 97 for 4 in pursuit of an adjusted 172 despite a blazing display from Sanath Jayasuriya. He clattered 58 off 36 balls before three wickets fell for eight runs to even the contest. In the end, though, the rain returned with the chase 3.4 overs short of mandatory 20 for a match.
The final group match between the Dolphins and the Warriors at Port Elizabeth had no bearing on the knockout stages, but it still produced a tight encounter. Jon Kent's 86 marshalled the chase, but the Dolphins had a few nervous moments in the final over. Kent fell to the first ball with scores level, and Morne van Vuuren couldn't score off three deliveries before being run out meaning one was still needed off the last ball. Daryn Smit, though, managed to steal the winning run.
Player of the week - Henry Davids
The Cape Cobras had gone three matches without a win, and were skittled for 39 last week, to make themselves sweat over a semi-final berth, but Henry Davids ensured they remained in with a chance of silverware with a fine double in the final two games. Davids, 28, has been a hard-working performer for the Cobras without ever quite being able to kick-on with his career. But he has found a happy home opening in the one-day game and scores of 85 and 116 mean his confidence will be high heading in the semi-finals.