The Knights finally got off the mark in the Ram Slam T20 and consequently put a dent in the Highveld Lions’ ambitions as Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw orchestrated a 29-run victory at Senwes Park. The pair shared in a 90-run stand for the first wicket to send the Knights on their way to a total of 175/5, with Hendricks finishing unbeaten on 72. The Knights had put similar totals on the board in previous games and failed to defend them, but this time they backed it up with an impressive bowling performance to restrict the Lions to 146/9 in reply.
The Lions had hoped to join the third-placed Cobras on 16 points after seven games, but instead sit four points back making Sunday’s clash between the two sides at the Wanderers all the more important. It was Rossouw who took the game to the Lions early on after the hosts had won the toss and elected to bowl, hitting 46 from just 29 balls.
Although the Knights lost their way a little bit after he had come down the track and hit Aaron Phangiso (2/26) straight to long-on, they were still able to reset and take 59 off the last five overs of their innings. While Hendricks naturally played a role in that, finishing with seven fours in his 56-ball knock, Tumelo Bodibe’s innings also proved valuable as he struck an unbeaten 22 from just nine deliveries.
On another dry pitch, the importance of scoring while the ball was still hard was not lost on the Lions, and after allowing themselves a few sighters Devon Conway and Rassie Van Der Dussen got stuck in. When they took 17 off Shadley van Schalkwyk’s first over, and then went on to reach 71 without loss after eight overs, the Lions were perfectly on track. However, Malusi Siboto recovered from an expensive first over to break the partnership in his second, as Conway (36) got an inside edge through to the keeper.
Werner Coetsee then grabbed two wickets in two overs, including the key one of Van der Dussen (40 from 26 balls), and the Knights scented an elusive victory. Thami Tsolekile (20) and Andre Malan (25) sparked a brief recovery, but Siboto went on to grab another two wickets and record figures of 3/29 and Van Schalkwyk recovered brilliantly to finish with 2/33, as the Knights secured their first points in their seventh game.