The Lions, having already taken occupancy of a playoff place, rested some key players and still cruised to a seven-wicket victory over the Cape Cobras in their T20 Challenge match at Kingsmead on Friday.
Though the Lions left out Kagiso Rabada, Sisanda Magala and Dwaine Pretorius, another typically disciplined bowling performance restricted the Cobras to 144 for six after the Cape side elected to bat first.
Opener Reeza Hendricks then took charge of the run-chase, stroking a commanding 75 off 59 balls to lead the Lions home with three balls to spare.
Hendricks and Temba Bavuma (29 off 21) looked after the bulk of the runs with a second-wicket stand of 84 off just 56 balls, but Wiaan Mulder added the finishing touches with 25 not out off just 10 deliveries. It was the all-rounder’s first match in the tournament and, having also bowled decently (2-0-16-1), he might just have earned himself a spot in the playoff on Saturday.
Spinner Imraan Manack was tight for the Cobras, conceding just 20 runs in his four overs.
Left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin (4-0-29-2), opening the bowling as usual, struck immediately for the Lions as he had Cobras captain Tony de Zorzi caught off the first ball of the innings, skying a most unnecessary swipe across the line.
Zubayr Hamza, who has just rediscovered his best form, was most unfortunate to have to retire hurt with a groin strain and the pressure continued to pile on the Cobras as Kyle Verreynne, who had brought some urgency in his 21 off 16 balls, was outfoxed by fast bowler Lutho Sipamla as they slipped to 32 for three.
George Linde (22) added 37 with Christiaan Jonker as the momentum started to turn and the Cobras were able to post a competitive total after Jonker and Corbin Bosch added 59 off 48 balls for the fifth wicket.
Jonker fought hard, showed his experience and played some fine strokes in his 44 off 39 deliveries, while Bosch showed some sweet stroke-playing ability in his 32 not out off 26 balls.
Sipamla was an exciting addition to the Lions attack with two for 27 in his four overs, while left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso stopped the scoring rate most effectively, conceding just 19 runs in his four overs.