Yaseen Valli carried his bat as South Western Districts beat Western Province by three wickets with two balls to spare in a nail-biting T20 Knock Out match in Kimberley on Saturday.
Having restricted WP to a below-par total of 130-7, all SWD needed was a couple of good partnerships and some calm heads to get them across the line and that is exactly what the left-handed Valli accomplished.
His unbeaten 55 (54 balls, six fours and one six) was his second half-century in a row and made him the leading run-scorer in the tournament.
The result isn’t sufficient at this stage to qualify his team for the knockout phase as there is still the possibility of three teams finishing tied on eight points. The position will become clearer after Saturday afternoon’s match between the Lions and the Northern Cape Heat.
WP won the toss in the battle of the two unbeaten sides from the first round, but were given a rude awakening by SWD when Renaldo Meyer dismissed the first-day centurion, Zubayr Hamza, with the third ball of the match.
Worse was to follow when their other Proteas top-order batter, Kyle Verreynne, perished in the next over, bowled by Herschell America.
The innings became a struggle thereafter on a pitch with a lower and slower bounce from the previous day as they were restricted to 30-2 in the PowerPlay and then crumbled to 50-5 after 10 overs, with off- spinner Pheko Moletsane chiming in with two wickets in an over.
Kyle Simmonds (46 not out off 32 balls, three fours and two sixes) and Aviwe Mgijima (35 off 35 balls, one four) pulled the innings together with a sixth-wicket stand of 67 in nine overs but it was only in the 17th over that they managed to achieve a run rate of six to the over.
The final total of 130-7 looked short of par.
America finished with an outstanding 3-22 in four overs to become the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.
WP matched the start SWD had made with the ball when Beuran Hendricks dismissed Blayde Capell with the third ball of the innings and Wayne Parnell then got rid of key batter Jean du Plessis.
Valli and Andre Malan stabilised the innings, taking SWD to 38-2 at the end of the PowerPlay and getting their team up to the required run rate which they managed to maintain to the end of the match.
Valli watched as partners came and went but they nearly all reached double figures which was enough to get their side over the line.
Hendricks (1-18 in four overs, including 12 dot balls in his new-ball spell of three overs) was the standout bowler for WP, but they were left in such a tight finish to rue mistakes in the field with two boundaries given away in the PowerPlay through clumsy fielding and a couple of run-out chances going astray as well.
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Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
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