Dean Elgar struck his second consecutive half-century to guide the Chevrolet Knights to a resounding seven wicket victory over the hapless Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge match at Chevrolet Park in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Elgar shared in two half-century partnerships with Pite van Biljon (26) and Obus Pienaar (38 not out) as the hosts scored 143 for three in response to the visitors 140 for seven, with two balls to spare. Elgar struck an unbeaten 56 off 50 balls with four boundaries and a six to move the Chevrolet Knights one step closer to a play-off place.
Johan van der Wath had won the toss earlier in the day and decided to send the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras into bat first on a flat track. His decision paid dividends as Stiaan van Zyl (1) fell in the third over. Dane Vilas joined Richard Levi at the crease and put on 32 runs for the second wicket before Nicky Boje (1-19 in four overs) had Vilas caught by Van Biljon.
At 44 for two, the visitors had a platform with which to build a decent total. But Levi (29), Owais Shah (9), Justin Kemp (8) and Vernon Philander (4) were not able to build on a decent start. After the departure of Vilas, the Cape franchise posted four consecutive partnerships of 11 runs each, which left them in a rut at 88 for six in the 15th over.
Alistair Gray (7) hung around long enough for Justin Ontong to try and rescue the innings, as the pair added 32 for the seventh wicket. After Gray was run out, Dane Piedt joined his captain and added 20 runs in 14 balls for the eighth wicket. Ontong ended undefeated on 51 off 39 balls with only one four and one six.
Shadley van Schalkwyk was the pick of the bowlers, picking up 2-23 in fours overs and received excellent support from Van der Wath (1-10), Elgar (1-20) and Malusi Siboto (1-31). Van der Wath only bowled three overs but was extremely impressive up front, conceding only seven runs off his first two overs.
The home side's reply started off in the worst possible way when Rilee Rossouw (4) was caught by Justin Kemp off the bowling of Vernon Philander off the fifth ball of the innings. Elgar then joined Loots Bosman (10) at the crease and added 17 runs for the second wicket before Kemp took his second catch of the night, again off Philander, to leave the hosts on 23 for two after five overs.
But Elgar and Van Biljon set about restoring order by adding 57 for the third wicket off just 48 balls. The last success the visitors would taste would be in the 13th over when Van Biljon was run out with the score on 80. Van Biljon faced 23 balls while striking one boundary and a six.
Pienaar the strode to the crease and immediately became the aggressor as he struck three fours and a six in 27 balls for his undefeated 38.
The same problem that has plagued Paul Adams' beleaguered side for most of their campaign, raised its head again by not following through after striking early. Philander was the only bowler to hold his head high, ending with figures of 4-0-17-2. Dane Piedt bowled only three overs and conceded 18 runs, as the rest of the attack looked helpless and lost.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras have now suffered six straight defeats, and have only registered two wins from nine starts. The Chevrolet Knights now move onto 21 points and have one foot in the play-offs, although the men from Bloemfomtein will need to guard against complacency.
The Chevrolet Knights next host the Nashua Titans in Bloemfontein in the last league-phase game which could decide who plays in the play-offs, on Tuesday, 26 March.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras end off their campaign by hosting the Chevrolet Warriors, who themselves are chasing a play-off position, at Sahara Park Nelwands in Cape Town on Thursday, 28 March.
Chevrolet Knights: Loots Bosman, Rilee Rossouw, Dean Elgar, Gihahn Cloete (wk), Obus Pienaar, Pite van Biljon, Johann van der Wath (capt), Shadley van Schalkwyk, Nicky Boje, Dillon du Preez, Malusi Siboto.
Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras: Richard Levi, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas (wk), Owais Shah, Justin Ontong (capt), Justin Kemp, Vernon Philander, Alistair Gray, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Piedt, Francois Plaatjies.