Former England international Kevin Pietersen gave the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead crowd an evening to remember on Wednesday night when his 115 not out off just 66 balls saw the Sunfoil Dolphins overcome the bizhub Highveld Lions by a single run in their RAM Slam T20 Challenge encounter.
The South African-born overseas star started measuredly before carving a 17-ball second fifty and thirty runs off the Sunfoil Dolphins twentieth over to bring up his highest ever Twenty20 score, give the home side the impetus they needed going into the field and, ultimately, earn them a positive result.
“It is a special moment,” admitted the international sensation after the game. “Doing it for the Dolphins, back at Kingsmead – where it all started – it is special!”
“I’ll probably think about it tomorrow and it will probably make me a little bit happy about the situation; it’s nice to see the Dolphins reflected on my numbers somewhere as well!”
Losing the toss and being sent in to bat first, the Sunfoil Dolphins innings started poorly with the early loss of Cameron Delport before the loss of captain Morné van Wyk, David Miller and Cody Chetty further hampered their progress.
A steady partnership between Pietersen and Khaya Zondo rebuilt the innings before Pietersen and Keshav Maharaj combined for an unbroken seventh wicket stand of 87 off just 5.5 overs.
Pietersen’s innings, that included five fours and no fewer than ten sixes, was one to behold, especially the manner at which he accelerated at the end of the innings.
“It’s all about playing the situation,” explained Pietersen. “In the first six overs, with the fielding restrictions, if there was something in my slot I knew I needed to go at it and then when the spinners came on then I needed to calm down.”
“I knocked it around a bit and then if it’s up there then it’s in the car park from over fourteen!” he laughed.
The innings was one well appreciated Pietersen’s fell team mates as well while a special mention also went to the bowling unit’s display in the final four overs, and Phehlukwayo’s in the last in particular who successfully defended thirteen runs despite being just 19 years of age.
“The big man just played a vintage knock; it was a great game of cricket and I feel privileged just as a fan to have been here and then also to have seen the knock of Kevin’s!” said Van Wyk.
“He’s arrived and – with the help of the bowling unit a bit – he probably won that game for us tonight!
“We all know we can improve a little bit in different areas, it was by no means a perfect game from us – all in all the Lions probably played better than us as a team – but that’s the nature of T20 cricket I guess!
The Sunfoil Dolphins travel to Kimberley on Thursday ahead of their RAM Slam T20 Challenge clash with the VKB Knights at the De Beers Oval on Friday, 6 November before they return home to Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Sunday, 8 November where they take on the Warriors.
“We can take a lot from this, winning by one run is always a bit a nerve wracking and it was a good game of cricket!
“Can you ask for a better start (to the tournament) than this? It’s obviously nice to see the points on the board and now we’d like to keep it going!” said Van Wyk.
Fans are reminded to get their tickets from www.ticketpro.co.za for Sunday’s clash early to enjoy their slice of RAM Slam T20 Challenge action and to also stand a chance of winning a share of R1million should they catch a ‘six’ one-handed and cleanly (Ts & Cs apply).