The first Standard Bank Pro20 semifinal bubbled and fizzed on Friday night as the Dolphins produced a powerful performance to defeat the Diamond Eagles by five wickets at Kingsmead.
It was an amazing turnaround by the Dolphins, who were crushed by ten wickets when the two teams met earlier in the competition.
This time, though, the Dolphins looked more confident, which was understandable considering that they have won their last four matches and ultimately finished second on the log.
As has been the case of late, opening fast bowlers Johann Louw (2-23) and Yusuf Abdullah (1-12) got the Dolphins off to a great start, taking an early wicket each to reduce the Eagles to 17-2 inside five overs.
However, Eagles captain Boeta Dippenaar and Dean Elgar consolidated and then exploded. But their purple patch was temporary as a horrible mix-up culminated in Elgar being run out for 17.
The Eagles continued to be the architects of their own demise as Rilee Rossouw (5) was also run out after trying to take an ill-judged run.
Dippenaar (30) was bowled soon after by spinner Darryn Smit (1-26) and then Roger Telemachus (0) added his name to the growing list of run-out batsmen after another diabolical mix up saw him and Ryan Bailey both stranded at one end.
Bailey didn’t last much longer as he was caught behind off the bowling of Alfonso Thomas for just one, leaving the Eagles floundering at 70-7.
A few lusty blows from Dillon du Preez (19) and Thandi Tshabalala (21*) managed to lift the Eagles into triple figures but the hosts continued to take wickets at regular intervals.
Louw eventually picked up the final wicket off the last ball of the last over, bowling Victor Mpitsang for three and leaving the Eagles with the mighty task of defending a paltry 114.
The success of the Dolphins bowlers was obviously infectious as opening batsman Grant Rowley got his side off to the perfect start, blazing away as the hosts rapidly reached 49 without loss.
At the fall of the first wicket, Proteas star Hashim Amla made his way to the crease and, along with Rowley, continued to ease the Dolphins towards victory.
At 87-1, Rowley was trapped lbw by Elgar (3-10), just two short of a well deserved half-century. The next ball saw Morne van Vuuren pop a simple return catch back to the impressive Elgar and soon after Ahmed Amla (2) was also out, setting a few hearts fluttering amongst the healthy home crowd.
Hashim Amla was then bowled for 34 by Elgar, leaving the Dolphins a little shaky at 97-5.
But it was too little too late for the Eagles as Jon Kent (8*) and Pierre de Bruyn (10*) saw the hosts home.
The Dolphins will now play either the Nashua Cape Cobras or Nashua Titans, who contest the second semifinal on Sunday. — Sapa