LIONS SECURE TOP SPOT IN T20 CHALLENGE

A career-best franchise score by Ryan Rickelton helped the bizhub Highveld Lions secure top spot and dump defending champions the Multiply Titans out of the CSA T20 Challenge in the process thanks to a four-wicket win in their Jukskei derby clash in Centurion on Sunday.

The young wicket-keeper slammed 74 off 47 balls (6 fours, 3 sixes) as the visitors ensured they will host one of the two semi-finals on Wednesday and a potential final in Johannesburg should they get there next week.

And, with the Hollywoodbets Dolphins beating the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras at the same time in Durban, the result saw the hosts overhauled on the table – eventually ending fifth and out of the play-off places.

It was a disappointing end to a long campaign for Mark Boucher’s side, with the Lions now going on to meet the Dolphins in the last four.

They have been in excellent form in their last two regular season games, and after beating the Cobras on the road on Friday, they followed that up with another polished display at SuperSport Park where they chased down a 149-run victory target with six balls to spare.

Rickelton was the star with the bat, but before that, the Lions’ bowlers shone after they had won the toss and opted to field first.

The on-loan Lizaad Williams grabbed three for 32, while Migael Pretorius (2/23) and Wiaam Mulder (2/16) were exceptional. They reduced last year’s champions to 47 for four early on. Farhaan Behardien (48) and Grant Thomson (37) then produced a mild repair job with their 77-run fifth-wicket partnership.

But the Lions bowlers hit back late on to keep the target below 150.

Rickelton, whose previous best score in the competition was 69 against the Cobras earlier this season, then flew out of the blocks as the away side raced to 96 for one by the 12th over.

Tabraiz Shamsi (2/33), Junior Dala (2/22) and Matthew Arnold (2/42) threatened to turn the game late on, but Rassie van der Dussen’s unbeaten 30 carried the Lions to victory.

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