Quinton de Kock continued his superb form this season with a fine 44 off 31 deliveries in the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge final before the Nashua Titans hit back to restrict the bizhub Highveld Lions to 155 for five in Johannesburg on Sunday.
The young wicketkeeper blazed three sixes and three fours and shared in a 58-run opening partnership with rookie Rassie van der Dussen (12) as the hosts looked set for a massive total at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.
But the visitors clawed their way back into the contest after the dismissal of the two men, and only a clever 39 off 32 from Neil McKenzie lifted Geoffrey Toyana’s side to a competitive total.
After winning the toss and batting first, De Kock got going with a flat six over cover in the second over after a quick shimmy down the track to Marchant de Lange (1-31) in the second over.
That was just his sixth ball and by the end of the over, Van der Dussen did the same to his sixth delivery when he pulled De Lange behind square for six.
It was 45 for none by the end of the powerplay, De Kock also surpassing 500 runs in the season during that time, and at the start of the next over, the rising young Proteas star crunched Roelof van der Merwe for successive sixes <p> But the wily left-arm slow bowler then took a superb return catch to dismiss Van der Dussen.
McKenzie joined De Kock and slowly began to find his stride with the home team reaching 81 for one at the halfway stage.
However, the latter fell at the start of the 11th over when he slapped a Henry Davids hip-high full toss down the throat of Farhaan Behardien at deep midwicket.
The runs had slightly dried up by then with the bizhub Highveld Lions crossing 100 in the 13th over, before Alviro Petersen (15) was bowled attempting to swing Albie Morkel heavily onto the leg side.
There was a crucial blow for Matthew Maynard’s men in the 16th over when Albie Morkel, the pick of the bowlers at that stage with one for
14 in 2.3 overs, rolled over his ankle and had to be helped from the field.
But the Nashua Titans continued to keep their hosts in check and Morne Morkel sent McKenzie on his way in the next over leaving the total on 130 for four.
The tight bowling continued at the death and a superb final over by De Lange, which went for seven and included the wicket of Jean Symes (10), restricted the target to 156.
bizhub Highveld Lions: Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock (wk), Alviro Petersen (capt), Temba Bavuma, Neil Mckenzie, Jean Symes, Chris Morris, Sohail Tanvir, Hardus Viljoen, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir.
Nashua Titans: Henry Davids (capt), Heino Kuhn (wk), Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Morne Morkel, Eden Links, Marchant de Lange.