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CSA Provincial T20 Cup: Teams from Western Cape shine as Lions fail to advance

A look at the highlights from Pool A matches of CSA's domestic T20 competition

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Zubayr Hamza is the leading run-getter in the Provincial T20 Cup  •  Cape Cobras

Zubayr Hamza is the leading run-getter in the Provincial T20 Cup  •  Cape Cobras

The Western Cape will be well-represented in the quarterfinals of the Provincial T20 Cup - CSA's domestic T20 competition - after two teams from the province progressed from Pool A at the weekend. South Western Districts and Western Province finished in first and second place respectively, with two wins apiece. The Johannesburg-based Lions also won two games out of three but narrowly missed out on progression on net run-rate, while the Northern Cape ended winless. Overall, sixteen teams take part in the tournament.
In an exciting opening round of fixtures, the first match was decided on the last ball, with Western Province beating the Lions by two runs while the Lions' second match, against Northern Cape, went to a Super Over. The upset of the round came when South Western Districts beat Western Province and then pushed the Lions to a penultimate-ball win to top the table and leave Western Province in a must-win situation in the final match. They beat Northern Cape to qualify for the knockouts.
Here are some of the weekend's highlights:
Hamza in the runs
After playing five Tests for South Africa between 2019 and 2020, Zubayr Hamza has dropped off the radar despite impressive white-ball form. He was the second-leading run-scorer in the 2019/20 one-day cup, but did not get a look in to South Africa's white-ball squads, and is now showing his potential in the shortest format. Hamza scored a 63-ball 106 in the opening match to set Western Province up to post the highest score of the round - 197 - and a match-winning 62 in the third match to ensure they chased 164 to qualify for the next round. In between that, he bagged a duck, but still comfortably leads the run-charts with 168 runs from three matches.
Magala's back
Sisanda Magala missed out on the T20 World Cup squad after spending much of the winter injured, but continues to put in performances that suggest he can't be kept out for too long. He contributed a 15-ball 25 in the Lions' chase against Northern Cape that went some way to ensuring they tied the game and then he bowled the Lions to victory in the Super Over. Magala had eight runs to defend and he gave away just five, to once again prove his worth under pressure. He will hope to get another opportunity at the international level soon.
Remember these names
South Western Districts' Hershell America has taken the early lead on the bowling charts with seven wickets from the pool matches at an average of 10.57. His economy rate of 6.16 is also the best in the competition so far. America's stand-out performance came in his team's victory over their bigger provincial neighbours, Western Province, where he took 3 for 22 including the wickets of Kyle Verreynne and Wayne Parnell. With South Western Districts in Division 2 of the new system, it's unlikely they, or America, will get much television time after the T20 knockout, but he made the most of this first opportunity and will be one to watch in the next round. Similarly, former South African Under-19 batter Yaseen Valli, whose career began in Johannesburg, took his chance and contributed two fifties to lie second on the batting charts.
Searching for diamonds in Kimberley
The lack of wins does not mean the Northern Cape, the province known for its diamond mines, has run out of gems. As a team, they put in some good performances over the weekend to suggest they will be a strong force in the second division. They forced the Lions to a Super Over and set Western Province a fairly challenging target of 164 in slow conditions in the final match. Former national Under-19 players Jonathan Vandiar and Rivaldo Moonsamy headline their batting line-up while Free State bowlers Joe van Dyk and Andrew Rasemene both finished in the top five on the wicket-takers' list.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent