Lions Reach Semis With Hard-Fought Win
Highveld Lions 134-5 (Symes 27no) beat
Yorkshire 131-7 (Phangiso 2-23) by 5 wickets
CLT20, Group B Match, Johannesburg
Yorkshire fought all the way but their sub-par total of 131 for seven was never likely to be enough at a free-scoring Wanderers as Highveld Lions held their nerve to knock off the runs in the final over. Their win means that they, along with Sydney Sixers, qualify for the semi-finals from Group B, rendering this evening’s match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians meaningless.
Yorkshire had battled to force the required run rate up to 10 and over for the final two overs of the Lions run chase, but Oliver Hannon-Dalby, making his debut in T20 cricket and playing at the expense of the injured Moin Ashraf, conceded 14 runs from the penultimate over of the innings.
Thami Tsolekile could manage just a single from the first two balls, but Jean Symes smacked the third ball over extra cover for six and fourth over the bowler’s head for four, leaving Steven Patterson just five to defend from the final over. The first ball was edged between his legs to the fine-leg boundary and that was more or less that - Lions winning with four balls to spare.
Yorkshire’s batting effort had been yet another insipid affair as the middle-order squandered the steady start given to them by openers Andrew Gale and Phil Jaques. Gale was first to go with the score on 54 in the ninth over, handing Dwaine Pretorius a wicket in his first match of the tournament, as three wickets fell for 13 runs in 16 deliveries.
Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance took the score into three figures, but Lyth’s departure for 21 off 17 balls in the 17th over of the Yorkshire innings put pay to any hopes of a late charge and they limped to the end of their 20 overs. Sohail Tanvir delivered his best spell of the competition, returning figures of two for 25, while Aaron Phangiso was again exceptional and ended with figures of two for 23, taking the important wickets of Joe Root (5) and Gary Ballance (17).
The Lions reply began with a skittish 19 off 18 balls from Alviro Petersen. The Lions skipper edged a couple off boundaries off the Yorkshire opening bowlers prior to edging a flat-footed waft through to Dan Hodgson off Hannon-Dalby. Gulam Bodi was trapped in front in the next over by a Steven Patterson slower ball, but Neil McKenzie and Quinton de Kock looked like they would cruise home as they milked the bowling during a third-wicket partnership of 38.
However, Azeem Rafiq pinned McKenzie plumb in front to spark the Yorkshire fightback. When he wasn’t cajoling his team-mates in the field, Rafiq was watching the batsmen closely before delivering his off-spinners with pinpoint precision. He once again displayed his superb ice-cool big-match temperament which has already led to whispers of an England call-up, returning figures of one for 14 from his four overs, and comprehensively out-bowled the luckless and more experienced Adil Rashid.
Rashid was again too short in length and his third over, which went for 14 runs thanks mainly to Dwaine Pretorius, looked to have put the match irredeemably beyond Yorkshire’s reach. Fortunately, the return of their seamers undid some of the damage.
Steven Patterson, suddenly promoted to leader of the attack in the absence of the injured Ryan Sidebottom, removed Pretorius via a juggling catch from substitute fielder Ed Wilson on the cover boundary, while Iain Wardlaw, who found at times prodigious movement off the pitch from a solid action, went for only three runs from his final over.
Ultimately, though, Hannon-Dalby, thrust into the spotlight on debut, found Jean Symes just too good and was dispatched ruthlessly. It would be hard to fault him, or any of the Yorkshire bowlers, though, as they did the best they could with the inadequate total that their batsmen had given them.
© Cricket World 2012
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