Neil McKenzie brought his considerable experience to bear as the Highveld Lions beat the Warriors by six wickets to make it five wins out of five in the middle game at the Ram Slam T20 Challenge triple-header at Kingsmead on Sunday. At 74/4 after 15 overs chasing 127 for victory, many batsmen would have buckled under the considerable pressure, but McKenzie refused to panic and found an able ally in Temba Bavuma. The pair duly knocked off the 53 runs still required, coasting home with three balls to spare to put the bizhub Highveld Lions seven points clear at the top of the table at the halfway point of the competition.
The Chevrolet Warriors had needed a 56-run stand for the sixth wicket between Christiaan Jonker and Simon Harmer to get them anywhere near a decent total after four of their top five had been dismissed for single-digit scores. Only Yaseen Vallie (25) had contributed as the Warriors slumped to 55/5, but Jonker added 25 from 20 balls and Harmer scored an unbeaten 38 from 26 deliveries to take the Warriors to 126/7. Although the Lions kept wickets in hand early on, with Rassie Van Der Dussen the only batsman to fall in the opening 12 overs, without Chris Gayle they struggled to gain momentum.
When Alviro Petersen (30) and Dwaine Pretorius departed in quick succession the Warriors were very much in the hunt, but McKenzie stood firm to finish unbeaten on 46 as Bavuma provided the firepower, hitting five boundaries in a score of 37 not out from 21 balls. That earned Bavuma the Ram Slammer of the Day Award, while Chris Morris was named the Ram Deliverer for his figures of 2/20 in four overs.