Splendid half centuries from Quinton de Kock and Alviro Petersen helped the bizhub Highveld Lions finish top of the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge table and secure a home final thanks to a convincing 54-run win over the Sunfoil Dolphins at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday.
De Kock blitzed 97 off 61 deliveries, including an astounding eight sixes, while Petersen smacked two sixes and four fours in his 55 off 29 balls to power the hosts to 195 for four.
The visitors were woeful in the face of that mammoth total and the pressure that came with it, ending on 141 for nine, thanks mainly to Daryn Smit (41 off 25).
Geoffrey Toyana’s men entered the final game of the regular season in second place and needing to win to assure themselves top spot – that position bringing with it direct qualification for the April 7 decider.
And they showed strong determination to do that from the outset.
The Sunfoil Dolphins won the toss and opted to field first, but they would have been ruing that decision early on as debutant Rassie van der Dussen (27 off 17) and De Kock tore into the opening bowlers.
Yusuf Abdulla and Mthokozisi Shezi were both plundered for 19 apiece in their opening two overs, before second change bowler Cameron Delport was mercilessly crashed for 21 in the sixth over, including three sixes off the bat of De Kock.
The 50 came up in the same over, before there was finally some respite when Van der Dussen drove at a full Kyle Abbott delivery and edged behind to Smit to end the stand on 67.
De Kock soon went to his sixth career half-century in 31 balls, before Ravi Bopara trapped Gulam Bodi leg before wicket for seven.
But Petersen added 87 with De Kock in 8.4 overs, before the latter lost patience in the face of fine bowling by Abbott (2-19), eventually falling three short of his ton when David Miller threw himself forward running in from long on to take a skied ball.
Petersen then went to his 50 in 27 balls as the home team set 196.
The Durban franchise were in trouble from the start of the reply when Divan van Wyk (six) had his middle stump uprooted by Hardus Viljoen (2-22) in the opening over, followed by Delport (10) caught behind by De Kock in the next over off Chris Morris.
A partnership of 49 then ensued between Cody Chetty and Vaughn van Jaarsveld to give their side hope.
But the pair were amongst three wickets, all in quick succession, to fall and knock the stuffing out of the visitors.
Van Jaarsveld (22) was first to go, and rather cheaply too, as he was run-out by Petersen fielding at cover with Cody Chetty seeking a single that was not there.
Chetty (28 off 25) followed in the over after when he missed a straight one from part-timer Petersen and was stumped by De Kock, before David Miller (six) lifted Imran Tahir straight to Morris at long-off.
Smit tried his best to change the result, but his hitting came too late as the hosts clinched a comprehensive win.
bizhub Highveld Lions: Rassie van der Dussen , Quinton de Kock (wk), Gulam Bodi, Alviro Petersen (capt), Neil McKenzie, Jean Symes, Dwaine Pretorius, Chris Morris, Hardus Viljoen, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir. Sunfoil Dolphins: Divan van Wyk, Cameron Delport, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Ravi Bopara, David Miller, Cody Chetty, Daryn Smit (capt & wk), Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Mthokozisi Shezi, Yusuf Abdulla