Rassie van der Dussen smashed unbeaten half-century to launch the bizhub Highveld Lions to a six-wicket, bonus-point victory over the WSB Cape Cobras in the CSA T20 Challenge at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
Man of the match Van der Dussen cracked just two fours but launched four maximums to end 59 not out from only 36 balls, needing 30 balls to reach his 21st career T20 fifty as the Lions reached 134 for four in reply to the Cobras’ 133 for seven after Temba Bavuma had won the toss and asked the home team to bat first.
Jason Smith had just missed his maiden T20 fifty when he ended unbeaten on 49 from 35 balls with five boundaries and a six as the Cobras posted a below-par total on a fresh Cape autumn evening with the visiting bowling attack producing a collective effort to restrict the home side.
But Van der Dussen’s innings was key in the visitors reaching their target with 25 balls to spare as he and his captain, Bavuma (26) shared in the best partnership of the match, adding 56 off 41 balls for the third wicket. Van der Dussen and Wihan Lubbe (6) then added 32 runs off 24 balls for the fourth wicket before Dwaine Pretorius (eight not out) scored two and a six to win the game for the men from Johannesburg.
Ryan Rickelton (26) was dropped twice in his innings, first by Rory Kleinveldt (3-0-35-0) off his own bowling and then by Nkululeko Serame off Vernon Philander (4-0-28-0) at third man but his luck finally ran out when JP Duminy (1-0-5-1) castled his stumps with his first delivery.
Reeza Hendricks (2), fresh from his disappointment of missing out on the ICC Cricket World Cup squad, was dismissed by an unfortunate incident as his bat got stuck in the turf in trying to make his ground by Janneman Malan was quick at mid-on, diving and throwing down the stumps at the non-strikers end.
Bavuma and Van der Dussen then set the tone for the chase, rotating the strike with ease while picking up the boundaries when on offer and with victory in site, Serame (1.5-0-14-1) bowled a beautiful Yorker to Lubbe with the middle and off-stump knocked out of the ground. Pretorius then walked out and clubbed his only two deliveries to send the Lions top of the log.
Earlier, the Cobras struggled to put any meaningful partnerships together, losing wickets with regularity as first the in-form and dangerous Malan (4) was caught at mid-on by Wiaan Mulder off the slow left-arm of Bjorn Fortuin (4-0-22-1) in the first over. David Bedingham (3) fell in the second over of the innings, edging the on-loan Cobras man, Lizaad Williams (3-0-25-1) down the legside to Rickleton behind the stumps.
Hashim Amla (10) and Duminy (29) looked set to stabilise the innings with a stand 43 for the third wicket but then Amla, as has been all season, clipped Pretorius (2-0-17-1) straight to Mulder at mid-wicket after facing 16 deliveries. Duminy looked positive on his return to the Cobras lineup, cracking four boundaries off 28 balls but then clipped Malusi Siboto (3-0-25-1) off his pads and straight down the throat of Nono Pongolo at backward square-leg, who took a good catch diving forward.
All the while Smith continued with his stroke-play, driving Fortuin over extra cover for back-to-back boundaries and launching Siboto over square-leg for six. But Aviwe Mgijima (1), hero from their last outing against the Warriors on Wednesday, was run out going for a second run and then George Linde (6) and Philander (1) failed to produce the big shots they are known for.
Kleinveldt (15 not out), who was dropped on two at point by Fortuin, stayed with Smith as the pair added an unbeaten 35 off 31 balls to give the Cobras something to bowl at. But the effort from the home side was not good enough as Van der Dussen and Co made easy work of the chase under lights.
The victory has lifted the Lions to the top of the standings with 24 points while the Cobras drop to second with 23 points, two points ahead of the Warriors in third. The Cobras’ final game is against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Durban while the Lions finish off with the trans-Jukskei derby against the Multiply Titans, who are fighting for a play-off spot with the Dolphins and VKB Knights.
The final round-robin matches take place on Sunday before the semifinals on Wednesday and Thursday next week with the final taking place the following Sunday.