KZN Inland side snatched the Africa T20 Cup title with a dominant display in the final, beating Free State by six wickets with more than two overs to spare, to complete a clean sweep of titles for the Pietermaritzburg side.
The win completes the trophy haul for coach Shane Burger’s charges, who have now added the Africa T20 Cup to the Sunfoil Three Day competition and the Sunfoil One Day competition titles they have already won.
Chasing a victory target of 129, left hander Sarel Erwee continued his solid form as the tournament’s top runs scorer, but he holed out in the fifth over for 19.
Unflustered, Kushen Kishun and Grant Roelofsen added 41 brisk runs for the third wicket, to bring the Inland side to within 50 runs of victory.
That brought the experienced Kyle Nipper to the crease, and the partnership with Roelofsen added a further 32 runs, leaving the composed Nipper and new man at the crease Ruhan Pretorius with a very comfortable task to secure the victory.
“I am really proud of the boys,” said skipper Lefa Mosena after the win. “The way we conducted ourselves, both on and off the field, was very professional, and I can’t fault anything.
“We all want to play for each other, we always want to see each other do well,” he added. “In the coming years that will be the footprint of how we play our cricket.”
Earlier, the Maritzburg outfit had Free State reeling at 12/3 in the PowerPlay, after winning the toss and choosing to bowl first in overcast, seamer-friendly conditions.
— Sipokazi Sokanyile (@Syfokazi) September 25, 2017
Gareth Dukes started the collapse with a stunning run out that sent semi-final centurion Andries Gous back to the change room without facing a single ball.
Kerwin Mungroo then took two quick wickets, dismissing Leus du Plooy and Diego Rosier, as skipper Lefa Mosena elected to bowl his two opening seamers out to tighten the thumbscrews on the Free State batsmen.
Dukes ended his four over spell conceding just ten runs, setting a record for the most economical spell at this year’s tournament.
Karabo Mogosti and Patrick Botha added 50 for the fourth wicket as Free State stabilised before spinner Kyle Nipper accounted for the Free State skipper Botha. Mogosti anchored the Free State flurry at the death to get them 128/5.
The win was celebrated in the stands by a healthy crowd of KZNCU Inland staff and fans who had made the long bus trip to Kimberley to support their team.
“I can’t put into words how much the staff at KZN Cricket have put into this,” said Mosena. “From the ground staff to the kitchen staff to the CEO, it has been unbelievable.
“For the staff to drive through (to the final), I can’t put into words. They did it by themselves – we didn’t ask them to do it,” he added.
All-rounder will step in next week with Root missing the match to attend the birth of his second child.
The all-rounder left home county Yorkshire earlier this month.
No play was possible on the second morning of the intra-squad match.
Ben Stokes thinks his experience under the captaincy of Alastair Cook and Joe Root will help him succeed in the role himself.
Players had initially been held back.
Australia’s white ball captain Aaron Finch says he’s preparing for September’s tour of England to go ahead.
The West Indies batsman has struggled to live up to early promise.
The star all-rounder is preparing to deputise for father-to-be Joe Root against the West Indies.
This four-day match represents the last opportunity for selection for the first Test against England.