The Titans have finished at the top of the Standard Bank Cup preliminary round despite receiving a thrashing from the Dolphins who finish fourth. The Lions wasted a chance of ending on top after they let the Warriors off the hook to be denied the bonus point they needed. The Eagles finished in the third spot after a win over the Cobras.
At the City Oval, Pietermaritzburg the overnight rain and then the humid conditions were perfectly used by Andrew Tweedie as he bowled the heart out of the Titans batting to take 6 for 24, the sixth best bowling performance in the competition. The Titans, sent in to bat first, had no answer to Tweedie who swung the ball both ways to leave them all out for 72 in 23.1 overs. Getting the ball in the right areas he had every batsman playing and missing. And when they did make connection he was backed up by some good catching.
The Dolphins' innings got off to a bit of a hic-cup with Imraan Khan caught off the first ball of the innings and Hashim Amla bowled for 10. Doug Watson struggled to 21 not out while Ahmed Amla, in contrast to all the other batsmen, played with ease to score 35 not out off 30 balls to take the Dolphins home by eight wickets in 14.2 overs.
A disappointing end for a very good Pietermaritzburg crowd who turned out for the only match they get in a season. The turnout should however prompt the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union to look at playing more games at this picturesque ground.
At St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth, the Lions nearly took advantage of the Titans slip but they allowed the Warriors to recover from 112 for 6 to 210 for 7 to deny the Lions the bonus point that would have seen them finish ahead of the Titans.
Batting first, Stephen Cook, top run scorer in the competition, continued his prolific form by scoring 90 as he nearly batted through the innings. An opening partnership of 80 with Adam Bacher (41) was almost wasted when Neil McKenzie fell without scoring but a quick 52 not out from Vaughn van Jaarsveld saw the Lions post an impressive 262 for 5.
The Warriors just never got off the ground in the chase as they collapsed to 72 for 5 in 21 overs with some poor shot making from the top order. A career-best 51 from wicketkeeper Athenkosi Dyili and a bludgeoning 79 not out (48 balls) from Tyron Henderson saw the Warriors get close but they were bowled out for 246 in the end, just 18 runs short.
At Newlands in Cape Town the Cobras' dismal season continued as they bowed out of the competition winless after another heavy loss, this time at the hands of the Eagles.
The Eagles, sent in to bat first, scored a solid 225 for 5 with both Loots Bosman and Boeta Dippenaar scoring 71. The innings had not started too well with both openers out inside two overs. Bosman and Davy Jacobs (40) took the score to 59 before Bosman and Dippenaar put on 96 for the fourth wicket. An undefeated partnership of 65 off 52 balls from Dippenaar and Ryan Bailey (31 not out) guided the Eagles through to the 225.
A total loss of confidence was evident from the Cobras as wickets fell at regular intervals. A slight rally from Henry Davids (31) and Rory Kleinveldt (36) saw them struggle to 190 all out. The young offspinner bowler, Thandi Tshabalala, was the pick of the bowlers and finished with career-best equalling 4 for 24.
The semi-finals will be contested between the Lions and the Eagles at the Wanderers, probably on Friday, while the Titans will host the Dolphins at Centurion on Sunday.
Keith Lane works for Cricinfo in South Africa