It was lucky No.13 for Chris Gayle, who scored his 13th T20 century and single-handedly took Lions to a bonus-point win over Warriors in East London. Gayle's unbeaten 108 dealt with the target of 145 swiftly and the Lions won with 34 balls to spare.
Gayle's century came after he scored 56 on his Ram Slam debut last week and promised he was not quite at his best and had more to offer. Just how much more was evident on Friday night, when almost none of the other Lions batsman were needed at all. Almost, because someone had to man the other end while Gayle's struck his ten fours and six sixes. Alviro Petersen played the role perfectly and provided a 35-ball 29 while enjoying Gayle's show.
Warriors could only turn green with envy watching that batting performance as their line-up failed yet again. Craig Kieswetter was undefeated on 82, but there were no other contributions of substance in an innings that was punctuated with wickets. Three fell in one over to legspinner Eddie Leie and Lonwabo Tsotsobe made another push for an international recall with figures of 1 for 13 in four overs, made particularly impressive by the struggles of the other Lions' seamers.
Cobras cruised past a modest total set by the defending champions, Dolphins in Cape Town.
Dolphins were kept to 127 for 9, but looked set for more with Cameron Delport sharing a 61-run second-wicket stand with Divan van Wyk to take them to 73 for 1 at the halfway stage.
But when Delport became the second of four wickets to fall in the space of 18 balls and nine runs, Dolphins were on their way to sinking. George Linde and Sybrand Engelbrecht were responsible for the mid-innings strikes which allowed Kieron Pollard to effect a strangle and former Dolphins seamer Mthokozisi Shezi's finished with 3 for 23.
Cobras polished off almost half the chase before their first wicket fell. Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick scored 62 runs in 5.2 overs before Levi gifted short mid-wicket a catch at the first sign of spin. Prenelan Subrayen was the only wicket-taker, until when Robbie Frylinck picked up a consolation scalp to end the second-wicket stand between Puttick and Omphile Ramela on 62. That brought Pollard to the crease, but it was top-scorer Puttick who hit the winning boundary as as the Cobras won with 26 balls remaining.
He had come in to bat after the openers Rudi Second and Gerhardt Abrahams provided a platform with 100 runs in 12 overs. Russell's 48 off 21 balls included 28 runs off eight successive deliveries from Tabraiz Shamsi and Cobus Pienaar and was the only other score of significance as the Titans staged a late comeback. Darren Sammy took three wickets in an over, including Russell's to ensure the Titans only added 21 runs off the last three overs.
Henry Davids provided Titans with the speedy start they needed with 29 off 18 balls while Dean Elgar took his time at the other end. Davids and Roelof van der Merwe were dismissed within seven balls of each other to leave Elgar with a repair job but it proved too much.
Elgar went on to a half-century and was unbeaten on 65, but lacked support in the face of tight bowling from Russell. As the required rate ballooned above 13 runs an over, the best Titans could do was deny Knights a bonus point.