Lions stumble, but still too good for Dolphins

2010-01-09 00:00

LAST night’s set of MTN40 clashes all went to the last over, but the most comfortable win went to the Lions at Kingsmead.

Chasing a below-par 231 by the Dolphins, Neil McKenzie’s sensible 77 was the cornerstone of what really should have been a straightforward stroll for the men from Gauteng.

Instead, they tried their best to keep the crowd entertained, as they lost three wickets on 183 to give the Dolphins a glimmer of hope.

Some of the running between the wickets in last night’s contest bordered on suicidal, and both sides were guilty.

The Dolphins would have been disappoin­ted with their total, despite a slow-ish pitch that made facing the Lions’ spinners somewhat tricky.

Loots Bosman started promisingly, with a breezy 38, but both he and Imraan Khan fell to opening bowler Phumelela Matshikwe to put the brakes on their solid start.

Cameron Delport, promoted up the order to give it a bit of sparkle, then contrived to run himself out for eight.

But that was only the start of the night’s brain freezes.

Dale Benkenstein played a shot that would make most teenagers blush, as he attempted to reverse-sweep Aaron Phangiso at a time when the Dolphins needed to restore some calm to their batting.

Ahmed Amla stuck around for the home side and his 82 off 91 balls went a long way to adding some sort of respectability to the total.

Amla did have his moment of madness, though, as he sent David Miller up the creek just when the Dolphins’ most in-form player was getting going.

Miller’s run-out shifted the pressure squarely on to Amla’s shoulders, but he responded by hitting Matshikwe for three consecutive fours, as the seamer suddenly decided that leg-stump half-volleys were the way to go.

But, despite Daryn Smit’s quick-fire 27 at the end, 231 was never going to be sufficient against a power-packed Lions line-up.

Jonathan Vandiar loves to remind the Dolphins of what they are missing, and he got off the mark with a six over point off Quinton Friend.

He and McKenzie looked as if they would secure a bonus point, as Vandiar reached a fine half-century off just 36 balls. But he fell limply soon after, while McKenzie sailed on.

He would have got a century, but Vandiar — on as his runner — saw fit to dance halfway down the wicket when there was never a run.

The Lions’ speed wobble on 183 woke up the crowd — and their irritating vuvuzelas — but Zander de Bruyn and Dane Vilas finished the job with five balls to spare.

That makes it back-to-back defeats for the Dolphins, and the semi-finals look a lot further away on this week’s evidence.

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