Lions stay alive in playoff hunt after derby win

Wiaan Mulder (Gallo Images)
Wiaan Mulder (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - An excellent final two overs by Malusi Siboto and Wiaan Mulder helped the Highveld Lions stay in the One-Day Cup semi-final hunt thanks to a tense seven-run win over the Titans in their Jukskei derby clash in Benoni on Thursday.

Chasing 305 for victory, the hosts were cruising along at 288 for six heading into the final 12 deliveries, but Siboto (1/50) conceded just four in the penultimate over in which he also took a wicket, before Mulder (2/46) went for five in over number 50 when he too struck.

It meant the home side could only muster 297 for eight in reply, handing the visitors a massive lifeline heading to the last round of regular season action on Saturday.

They now moved level on 14 points with the Knights, with the pair trailing the Warriors by four points - leaving a three-way tussle for one spot in the top four.

The match was more than just the final two overs, though, with impressive performances from players on both sides right the way through.

There was a seventh century in a losing cause from Jonathan Vandiar (111 off 124 balls, 14 fours), whose side are already assured of top spot on the table, while man-of-the-match Dominic Hendricks struck an equally key 93 (110 balls, 9 fours).

There was good support for the latter by Kagiso Rapulana (60 off 72 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) in an opening role as the pair put on 135 for the first wicket after the Lions won the toss and batted first at Willowmoore Park.

Wihan Lubbe followed them with a quick-fire 51 off 42 balls (7 fours, 1 six), with Wiaan Mulder plundering 36 off 29 to give the visitors a strong total.

Junior Dala continued his good recent form with the ball by grabbing four for 54.

Bjorn Fortuin (2/59) and Nandre Burger (2/53) pegged the Titans back to 32 for two early on, before a big stand of 126 for the third wicket between Vandiar and captain Dean Elgar (62 off 67 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) put the home team on track for victory.

Even after the stand-in skipper departed, Grant Thomson (31) added 62 for the third wicket with the centurion to take the score to 220 for three in the 38th over.

But the chase lost momentum from there as the Lions held their nerve at the death to complete the derby double and stay alive in the competition with a round to play.

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