Johannesburg - Khaya Zondo, in the news lately because of testimony at the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings regarding his controversial omission from a One-Day International in 2015, provided a reminder of his talent with a match-winning half-century that ensured the Dolphins qualified for the final of the Cricket SA T20 Knock Out competition in Kimberley.
The KwaZulu Natal side were heading for a comfortable win, thanks to a 59-run third wicket partnership between Zondo and Sarel Erwee, but as was the case in a few of the quarterfinals, one wicket induced panic, creating tension in the latter stages. Erwee was dismissed for 33, top edging an attempted pull in the 13th over, which started a mini collapse that saw the Dolphins lose three wickets for five runs in 10 balls.
Ruan de Swardt helped Zondo steady the ship, but when he was out in the 18th over for nine, the Titans still retained hopes of a win.
RESULT | @dolphinscricket WON BY 4 WICKETS— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) October 21, 2021
An inspired Khaya Zondo half-century anchored the Durban-based side over the line and are the first team into the #T20KO final🔥#BePartOfIt pic.twitter.com/axc7PPash9
Zondo then scored 14 runs off three consecutive deliveries by Okuhle Cele in the 19th over - a bottom edged cut that went to third man, a smartly thought out and well executed slog sweep and then superbly driven six over long-off, to turn the match decisively in his side’s favour.
He finished on 58 not out off 45 balls, striking five fours and two sixes.
The Titans will rue two missed chances to run out Zondo in the seventh over, both of which fell to Aya Gqamane, who missed hitting the stumps by centimetres with Zondo well short of his ground on both occasions.
Once again the Dolphins’ bowling was outstanding. After Daryn Dupavillon had picked up four wickets to blow the Warriors away in the quarterfinal, Ottniel Baartman, did the same to the Titans on Thursday, in fact matching Dupavillon’s figures from Wednesday by claiming 4/18.
It was a display in keeping with Baartman’s disciplined approach - accurate, targeting the stumps, and pacy - one which should earn him higher honours in the not too distant future.
Gihahn Cloete kept the Titans’ innings together with workmanlike 62, that included seven fours and a six, but none of his teammates could get on top of the Dolphins bowling to lend him proper support.
De Swardt and Thando Ntini each claimed two wickets, as the Titans fell well short of a defendable total.
The Dolphins will await the winner of Thursday afternoon’s semifinal between Free State and North West, to see who they will face in Friday’s final.