The Central Gauteng Lions paid for a poor display in the field as they were beaten by just two runs by Western Province in the opening game of the CSA Provincial T20 Cup at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Friday.
Having sent Western Province in to bat, the Lions were loose up front and wicketkeeper Ryan Rickelton, seemingly losing the white ball against quite a pale-coloured pitch, dropped opener Tony de Zorzi in the first over off Sisanda Magala.
De Zorzi and Zubayr Hamza went on to add 58 for the first wicket in 7.5 overs as the Lions added sloppy ground fielding and missed half-chances to their woes.
Hamza, who has struggled in T20 cricket before this year, went on to score a brilliant century, only being dismissed in the final over after he had stroked a dazzling 106 off just 63 balls.
With the able support of De Zorzi (26 off 22), Kyle Verreynne (35 off 23) and Wayne Parnell (18 off 8), Hamza led the Cobras to 197 for seven.
Malusi Siboto rescued an even worse situation for the Lions as he was economical at the death and took wickets to finish with a brilliant four for 30 in his four overs. Magala finished with one for 32, but the rest of the Lions bowling was poor.
Young openers Josh Richards (28 off 22) and Rickelton (53 off 31), as well as Shane Dadswell (32 off 14) in the middle overs, were good advertisers for the hitting ability of the Lions, but they fell just short despite the valiant efforts of Magala (23* off 15) with the bat.
Parnell, after his cameo with the bat, produced an outstanding display of skill with the ball, conceding just nine runs in the final over and 29 runs overall in his four overs.
Left-arm spinner Kyle Simmonds took crucial wickets in the 13th and 17th overs.
SWD beat Northern Cape
In the other match on Friday, South-Western Districts consigned Northern Cape to a 24-run loss on their home turf.
Yaseen Valli (60 off 49) and captain Jean du Plessis (69 off 39) added 113 in 12 overs to give SWD a great start after they were sent in to bat. Heath Richards then took them to 192 for four with a destructive 41 off just 14 deliveries.
Pacemen Hershell America then took crucial wickets, finishing with a superb three for 23 in his four overs, as Northern Cape were restricted to 168 for nine.
Onke Nyaku supported well with two for 30.
On Saturday, South-Western Districts play neighbours Western Province and Northern Cape take on the Central Gauteng Lions.