POTCHEFSTROOM, March 16, 2023 – The DP World Lions may not have won the CSA 4-Day Series, but they ended their campaign on Wednesday with a performance that shimmered with quality and character as they came from behind to beat the champions, the HollywoodBets Dolphins, by three wickets in a thrilling end to the domestic season in Potchefstroom.
Despite the defeat, the Dolphins still finished top of the standings, albeit narrowly. The Lions’ victory lifted them into fourth place on 110.50 points, just 7.54 points behind the KwaZulu-Natalians (118.04).
The Lions were a bit hesitant on the first two days of their encounter, but they roared back into the contest with a superb display with bat and ball on the third day, and then their batsmen finished off the job on Wednesday.
The Central Gauteng side began the final day on 64 for one, chasing a victory target of 293. They could not afford any soft dismissals and each and every batsman dug deep and fought hard.
Captain Dominic Hendricks (39) held the Dolphins at bay for the first hour along with Kagiso Rapulana. Rapulana’s singleminded 88, with 11 fours and a six, was the foundation of the Lions innings. He took on the short stuff from the pace bowlers with aplomb and was also strong on the drive.
But despite his great effort, putting behind him some tough recent times, when Eathan Bosch jagged the ball back miles to bowl Connor Esterhuizen for 39, the Lions had slipped to 235 for seven.
With 58 runs still required, it was enough to have the fans quivering with nerves, but Malusi Siboto and Lutho Sipamla showed superbly steely determination as they saw the Lions home.
Sipamla, whose batting has really improved this season such that he is much better now than his career average of 6.85, made light of the Dolphins’ pacemen’s attempts to intimidate with short-pitched bowling, scoring a defiant 29 not out with four fours.
Siboto completed an awesome batting double in the match, his 33 not out on Wednesday taking his tally for the game to 87 unbeaten runs. His 54 not out in the first innings was crucial in leaving the Lions with a first-innings deficit of just 70 runs as he steered them from 128 for six when he came in to 259 all out.
The left-handed Siboto was authoritative against the off-spin of Prenelan Subrayen, the Dolphins leading wicket-taker, and he struck five fours off 66 balls in his stunning performance.
Siboto also took two top-order wickets with his seamers in the Dolphins’ second innings, starting their collapse to 222 all out.
While the Lions will be disappointed not to have won the four-day title, they can certainly hold their heads high in terms of the character they have shown, being equal to most of the challenges that came their way in this campaign.
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