Cape Town - The Cape Cobras contrived to blow the advantage given to them by Richard Levi’s superb innings, as the Dolphins clung on for a thrilling five-run victory at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead that put them into the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge Final.
Andile Phehlukwayo was once again the bowling hero at the death for the Dolphins, being given the 18th and 20th overs to take 2/7 and also build the pressure that led to the run out of Justin Ontong.
With Levi blitzing 85 from just 43 balls, the Cobras went into the last five overs of their chase needing just a run a ball with seven wickets in hand to win the play-off.
Although Levi had departed by that stage, with plenty of batting to come the Cobras looked certain victors, but they went on to lose five wickets for the addition of just 19 runs to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Dolphins will now travel to SuperSport Park to take on the Titans in Saturday’s final (18h00 start), with their belief undoubtedly buoyed.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, they saw Cameron Delport put up his first significant score of the campaign as he scored 55 from 37 balls in an opening partnership with Morne van Wyk (57) that was worth 99.
That set the tone, and allowed David Miller and Kevin Pietersen to do what they do best once the openers had departed.
The pair hit two sixes apiece, with Pietersen making 27 from 10 balls and Miller finishing unbeaten on 33 from 24 balls, as the Dolphins posted 178 for three.
No team has scored more than 179 in the competition this season, and so it was clear that the Cobras faced a stiff challenge, particularly with a lack of firepower in their middle-order.
Levi produced the big innings when they needed it most, bludgeoning seven sixes in a brutal innings that saw him reach 50 in just 20 deliveries.
The Cobras romped to 77 without loss in the power play, with Wayne Parnell (27) playing the supporting role, and, even after Levi misjudged the length and pace of a Delport delivery to depart in the 14th over, the game should have been in the bag.
Yet the Cobras hit just two boundaries from that point on - both of them by Lesiba Ngoepe (32) - and the pressure built up progressively as a result.
It was then that Phehlukwayo became the hero for the Dolphins – and not for the first time in this season’s competition either – bowling two of the last three overs, during which he conceded just seven runs off the bat and claimed two wickets, while Justin Ontong was also run out in his final over.
The all-rounder is still four months shy of his 20th birthday on March 3 next year, but will now have the opportunity to showcase his growing skills and impressive nerve in South Africa’s most high-profile domestic game on Saturday.