Reeza Hendricks, Duminy extend good form
A round-up of the games played in third week of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, in which Cape Cobras got on to the points table, while Dolphins were hampered by the weather again
Cape Cobras got their first points when they beat Lions in a nail-biter in Paarl, though they may not have fancied their chances when they posted only 145 for 7. JP Duminy scored his second half-century in three matches to anchor the innings and the only other score of substance came from Hashim Amla, who made 42 off 35 balls. Kagiso Rabada was Lions' best bowler, with 2 for 20 in his four overs. Despite a 51 from Lions' opener Rassie van der Dussen, they were always behind the required run rate and needed 50 runs from the final five overs. Rory Kleinveldt took two wickets in three balls in the penultimate over and Lions could not muster the runs to crawl over the line.
Lions' weekend on the West Coast got worse when they also lost to Warriors at Newlands on Sunday, giving the Eastern-Cape side their first win of the campaign with a record chase. Lions posted 182 for 3, with Reeza Hendricks continuing to lead the line-up. After his century last week, Hendricks smashed 81 off 63 balls, and Lions may have considered themselves safe. However, Colin Ingram's 89 off 48 balls, after being dropped on 13 by Rabada, meant that Warriors recovered from 13 for 2 to dominate Lions' bowling. Beuran Hendricks and Wiaan Mulder conceded 89 runs between them in seven overs and Warriors won with six balls to spare to complete the highest successful chase in South Africa's franchise twenty-over competition history.
Later on Sunday, local team Cobras ended off a solid Sunday with a three-wicket win over Knights, thanks to strong performances from their veterans. Kleinveldt took 3 for 19 to stall Knights and remove their two internationals. Kleinveldt had Theunis de Bruyn caught behind, close to the halfway stage of Knights' innings, after he scored 40 off 22 balls. They were 71 for 3 before David Miller plundered 50 off 37 balls but was dismissed in the penultimate over. Cobras' chase started shakily. They were 54 for 3, with Richard Levi, Temba Bavuma and Amla all out. Duminy's 67 off 44 balls, however, ensured that even a mid-innings wobble meant Cobras won with an over to spare.
After a wash-out against Knights in Durban, rain prevented Dolphins from playing against Warriors at home on Wednesday. Their fortunes did not change when they moved upcountry. On Friday night, in Benoni, their match against the Titans was abandoned without even the toss, leaving them with only two completed games in the first half of the competition.
After struggling for form through the year, being dropped and then retiring from Tests, Duminy appears to have found his rhythm. He struck a third half-century in the competition and is second on the top run-getters' list, which can only bode well for South Africa's limited-overs engagements later in the summer.
Rabada picked up 3 for 25 against Warriors to leapfrog Lungi Ngidi on the wicket-charts. Rabada's economy of 6.70 runs is only a fraction above Eddie Leie's 6.68 among the top-ten wicket-takers in the competition so far and, impressively, the work Rabada is doing on his cutters seems to be paying off.
Meanwhile, Bavuma appears to have hit a lean patch. He has three single-figure scores and nothing over 30 in his five matches so far.
Though Lions did not have much to celebrate, Hendricks added another impressive score and has broken clear at the top of the batting charts, with more than 100 runs between him and his nearest competitor, Duminy. Hendricks has scored 319 runs from five matches and averages 106.33 with a strike-rate of 137.50 and is making a strong case to be considered as Ottis Gibson trials World Cup hopefuls.
Beyond the Boundary
An update from the Titans' camp around the availability of their internationals grabbed headlines. Dale Steyn was rested and returned to Cape Town to continue with his rehabilitation, with a focus on bowling Test match spells, while there is good news from both Chris Morris and Morne Morkel. Morris' return from a back injury is imminent while Morkel is said to be bowling at 80% after suffering a side strain against Bangladesh.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent