The Sunfoil Dolphins stumbled to a nail-biting six runs defeat at the hands of the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday evening, falling short of chasing down a modest target of 146 runs for victory.
After doing a solid job restricting the home side to 145/6, the Sunfoil Dolphins put together a promising 45 run first wicket stand before Morne van Wyk fell. His fellow opener Vaughn Van Jaarsveld departed with the total on 70 but leaving the Dolphins well poised to chase down the required runs.
David Miller looked set to spearhead that charge until he fell for 37 off 25 balls, leaving the game precariously poised at 121/5.
It was Dwayne Pretorius who turned the game around for the home side, taking Miller’s prized scalp clean bowled, and then skittling Dwayne Bravo for just 2 that started the rot. He went on to take a career best 4 for 22 to take the match away from the Sunfoil Dolphins.
Ryan McLaren completed a solid match by anchoring a brave charge at the run chase, but when he departed for 13, the match fell into the grip of the Gauteng franchise, which duly closed out the affair with Lonwabo Tsostobe’s final over.
Earlier in the day, Morne van Wyk had no hesitation in putting the home side in to bat at a ground that traditionally favours the chasers. Early wickets looked to underscore that decision, but a circumspect and intelligent 60 off 41 balls from Alviro Petersen made sure the Lions had a reasonable total to defend.
McLaren bowled purposefully, finishing with 2/33, while tight bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo and Keshav Maharaj ensured that the Lions finished short of the 150 mark, and set an appealing target that the Dolphins, anxious to end a winless streak, would have felt quietly confident they could chase down.
Aaron Phangiso grabbed two early wickets, but the Dolphins middle order couldn’t put together meaningful partnerships, despite the relatively modest run rate asked.
Hardus Viljoen was miserly and took the wicket of Morne van Wyk, but when blond Pretorius accounted for dangermen Miller and Bravo, and then ran through the lower middle order, the home side closed out the tight match to secure important points that keeps them in the hunt for the Ram Slam T20 playoffs.
For the Sunfoil Dolphins the defeat extends their frustrating winless streak since overseas pro Kevin Pietersen left the squad, and they will head to Port Elizabeth on Saturday to play the out-of-sorts Knights eager to arrest their slide and maintain their sights set on the RamSlam T20 playoffs.