New Delhi: The Highveld Lions is the second team from South Africa to qualify for the second edition of the Champions League Twenty20 after they entered the final of Standard Bank Pro20 - South Africa's domestic T20 tournament - but failed to win it, losing to the Warriors.
Lions finished third in the group stage of the tournament but qualified for the semifinals.
The team started its campaign in the worst possible manner by getting thrashed by the Cape Cobras by a margin of 42 runs. But they bounced back against Nashua Titans and beat them by four wickets. For Lions, Dane Vilas and Zander Bruyn played match-winning innings and Ethy Mbhalati bowled brilliantly as he picked four wickets for just 20 runs.
In the next match, Lions were convincingly beaten by Chevrolet Warriors by five wickets, leaving them low on confidence and in a tricky situation in the league table. They started the match well and put up a respectable total of 155 runs but their bowling let them down and Warriors easily chased the target. For Lions, Vaughn van Jaarsveld played a superb knock of 72 runs that helped them reach 155.
Then wounded Lions came back in style by winning back-to-back games against the Dolphins and Eagles and in the process assured themselves a place in the semis. They ended with three wins from five games, the same as Titans, but since the Titans had won a game with a bonus point, they occupied the second position while Lions were the third.
In the semifinals, Lions beat Titans on the last ball of the match when two runs were needed. J Symes hit the last ball to the boundary to help them take 1-0 lead in the best-of-three semifinals. Opener N McKenzie was the highest run-scorer with 35 runs off 34 balls, which made sure that Lions got off to a decent start. Down the order, J Symes played a cameo of unbeaten 30 runs from 25 deliveries.
Earlier, Lions restricted Titans to just 143 in 20 overs. Bowlers O'Reilly and Burger picked up two scalps each and bowled economically to keep the Titans' innings in check.
In the second semifinal, Lions batted beautifully and put up a big score of 186 runs in 20 overs and then restricted the Titans to 176, making sure that they reach the final and qualify for the Champions League T20.