At the age of 27, Jason Smith is a proper adult in cricketing terms, and his maturity was on full display on Wednesday as he steered the KZN Dolphins to victory in their CSA Provincial T20 Knockout quarterfinal against the Eastern Province Warriors in Kimberley.
KZN were chasing a mediocre total of 128, but paceman Glenton Stuurman (4-0-18-2) imposed himself with the new ball as they crashed to 33-4 after seven overs.
But Smith then came to the wicket and, striking the ball cleanly for three fours and three sixes – but also working the gaps really cleverly – struck 60 not out (off 41 balls) to ensure a win for KZN by six wickets with four balls left.
Keegan Petersen weathered the early storm, batting through to score 38 not out.
EP in the end did well to post 127-9 after they had chosen to bat first and slumped to 8-3 in the first three overs as Daryn Dupavillon produced a fiery display of fast bowling, ending with explosive figures of 4-18.
He wasn’t threatening to send anyone to hospital, but he targeted the stumps superbly, dismissing both openers, Lubbe (lbw) and Breetzke (bowled), for first-ball ducks and then having Smuts caught behind off an inside edge.
The Warriors were rescued by Diego Rosier’s composed 51 off 41 balls and a patient 28 by Sinethemba Qeshile.
Elsewhere, young Duan Jansen was the star of the show as the North-West Dragons snatched victory by three runs over the Boland Rocks in their quarterfinal.
Excellent bowling by Boland, especially spinners Manack and Mahima, reduced North-West to 104 for five in the 14th over with the dismissal of opener Eben Botha for 41 (34).
Lesego Senokwane (40 off 31) was then run out brilliantly by wicketkeeper Clyde Fortuin, but Jansen lifted the Dragons to 156-8 with some hearty blows, slamming 27 off 21 balls.
Brothers Janneman (74 not out off 56) and Pieter Malan (46 off 38) had Boland well on track with their opening stand of 108 in 12.5 overs.
But impressive 18-year-old spinner Caleb Seleka (4-0-25-2) removed Proteas Pieter Malan and Christiaan Jonker in successive overs and Jansen dismissed the dangerous Fortuin.
Jansen had only nine runs to defend in the final over, but Adams (21 off 13) stupidly ran himself out, with wicketkeeper Nicky van den Bergh doing great work.
Janneman Malan failed to make contact with a couple of shots and in the end Jansen (4-0-19-2) conceded just five runs off the last over.