The Dolphins overcome a star-studded Lions side by 41 runs to surge to the top of the Betway T20 Challenge table.
JOHANNESBURG – David Miller’s bruising half century, backed up by some cunning spin bowling saw the Dolphins overcome a star-studded Lions side to surge to the top of the Betway T20 Challenge table.
Victory over the Titans in the last round robin match on Friday afternoon will confirm their spot in the final, and given the way the two teams have played in the last week it’s very hard to see how the Titans, who may need to the win that game to qualify for the play-offs, will able to get the result they need.
In the last few years as the nature of the Kingsmead pitch has changed from the ‘green mamba’ of yore to a dry spin-friendly, almost subcontinental track, so the Dolphins have changed their side to suit those conditions.
Although they cut the number of spinners in the starting team from three to two for Wednesday’s crunch encounter with the Lions, Keshav Maharaj, masterful throughout this tournament, and Prenelan Subrayen were still far too good for a Lions team, whose batting in the last two matches has lacked intensity.
Temba Bavuma’s team had bowled well for most of the Dolphins innings, but they let their disciplines slip in the last four overs, conceding 50 runs, giving the Dolphins a total that was defendable.
Miller was typically aggressive taking just 38 balls for his unbeaten 56 and hitting three fours and three sixes, but he was given a significant helping hand by Beuran Hendricks and Sisanda Magala, who lost control of their lines and lengths in the latter stages of the innings.
Still it was a target that should have been within reach for the Lions. However they played far too tentatively, a bit like they did in chasing that 107 against the Knights on Tuesday when they missed the chance to earn a bonus point, something the Dolphins achieved in beating them on Wednesday.
Maharaj and Subrayen tied the Lions in knots, with the latter producing one of the cleverest moments of the competition, in dismissing Rassie van der Dussen, with a ball that had no pace whatsoever and deceived the Lions batsman causing a false shot.
Together Maharaj and Subrayen bowled eight overs, taking 4/28, and in the case of Maharaj, he’s giving the national selectors plenty of reasons to consider him as an option in the T20 side, given the World Cup will be in India later this year.
The Lions will need to reconsider their batting, the positions in the order of some players – most notably Ryan Rickleton – while they most certainly need to improve their intensity.
On Thursday there’s just one match – a virtual eliminator, between the Warriors and the VKB Knights.
Dolphins 151/4 (Miller 56*. Rabada 1/25)
Lions 110 (Van der Dussen 33. Subrayen 3/18)
Dolphins won by 41 runs