The Lions ‘kept fighting back’ to claw their way to 4-Day Series title

Bjorn Fortuin bowled the Lions to victory against Western Province. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Bjorn Fortuin bowled the Lions to victory against Western Province. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 4, 2024


The Lions completed one of the most memorable comebacks on the fifth and final day to clinch the CSA 4-Day Series trophy at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The home side ultimately beat Western Province by 99 runs with left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, who also finished as the leading wicket taker in the competition with 35 scalps, claiming 5/69 to help dismiss the visitors for 208.

Province’s players will wonder for the rest of their lives how they failed to win the domestic double after annexing the One-Day Cup this season.

It will perhaps never be the remotest consolation that it required arguably a once-in-a-lifetime double intervention from Lions all-rounder Delano Potgieter, who struck 81 and 155 not out in the match, that saw Province steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

In both innings, the Lions were in disastrous situations before Potgieter’s interventions.

On the first morning, the Lions were reeling at 35-5 and in the second dig they were leading by just 26 runs with four wickets remaining.

But due to a mixture of overconfidence, sloppiness and poor tactical execution, Province allowed the Lions to rally.

Heading into the final day, even while requiring 209 runs for victory with seven wickets in hand, Province would still have harboured ambitions of chasing down the required target, especially with their two most senior batters, Tony de Zorzi and captain Kyle Verreynne, still at the crease.

However, it took the timely intervention of Codi Yusuf, who managed to get the ball to nip back into Verreynne before hitting his pads high up.

The Province skipper was adjudged lbw, much to his chagrin as he was standing well outside his crease.

But without any television replays available, Verreynne had to make his way back to the pavilion for 40.

De Zorzi’s dismissal was equally dubious with Fortuin’s delivery seemingly missing the leg stump, but the Proteas top-order batter had to depart for a patient 55.

The Lions could now smell the scent of victory and had even more to celebrate shortly afterwards when Josh Richards, fielding at short leg, caught Mihlali Mpongwana dozing to run him out for 10.

It was a massive moment in the run chase as Mpongwana had shown countless times that he is Province’s man for a crisis and with him gone, it left only young Daniel Smith to fight a lone battle with the tailenders.

Smith held up his end with a valiant 52 off 95 balls – his second half-century of the match – but when the end eventually came for Province, it all happened rather quickly with the visitors losing their final four wickets for just three runs as Fortuin completed a sensational victory for the Lions.

The swiftness of Province’s final capitulation perfectly illustrated the difference between the two sides in the final, with the Lions’ tail having fought tooth and nail for every single run in both innings to get their team into a competitive position.

“We were put massively under the pump on the first morning (when the Lions were 35/5 in gloomy conditions on a green pitch).

“Our backs were to the wall, big time, but we kept fighting back,” said a beaming Lions captain Dominic Hendricks after the victory.