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Ken Borland


Lions take luck involved with tombola machine pitch out of the equation with brilliant all-round display

Posted on April 17, 2024 by Ken

The DP World Lions men’s team took the luck involved on a pitch that produced deliveries like a tombola machine out of the equation with a brilliant all-round display to beat the Momentum Multiply Titans by five wickets at SuperSport Park on Saturday and so ensuring that they will host the final for the four-day cup against World Sports Betting Western Province next week.

The Lions managed to chase down a testing target of 161 with relative comfort, Ryan Rickelton steering them to victory with 64 not out, an innings that married fierce determination with some fine strokeplay as the left-hander collected seven fours and a six.

Rickelton received considerable assistance from Wiaan Mulder (40), the pair adding 85 for the fourth wicket to repel a final push for victory for the Titans, who had reduced them to 32 for three with the new ball. Delano Potgieter (12*) helped the Proteas batsman add the last 43 runs required for the win.

Partnerships had also been key in the first innings, allowing the #PrideOfJozi to take a crucial 66-run lead. A brilliantly tenacious century by opener Josh Richards provided the foundation of the innings, but he had fabulous support from the middle-order.

Coming in at 51 for three, Mulder played an innings of some class in scoring 55 and adding 95 for the fourth wicket with Richards. Mitchell van Buuren then scored a wonderfully-controlled 58 and added another 83 for the fifth wicket with Richards, before Van Buuren and Potgieter (29) added another 62 for the sixth wicket. Those partnerships built such a handy lead that it did not matter that the Lions lost their last five wickets for two runs.

The DP World Lions had lost an important toss on a pitch that already showed inconsistent bounce and some pronounced movement on the first day, but their bowling attack produced two excellent displays as a unit to dismiss the Titans for just 227 and then 226.

Lutho Sipamla, playing his first Lions match this season after a back injury, made a superb comeback with four for 48 in the first innings, and Codi Yusuf made life very hard for the batsmen with four for 81 in the second. Potgieter picked up five wickets across the two innings.

But Richards was the main hero of the tremendous display by our Pride. On a pitch on which the steepling bounce of the new ball made it as dangerous as facing beamers, the 25-year-old played an innings of great courage. He spent an hour in gloomy light on the first evening fending off the express pace of Junior Dala and Corbin Bosch, then had to get himself in again on the second morning (the ball always doing more in the first session at SuperSport Park) before gradually playing with more and more fluency as he scored 107 in five-and-a-quarter hours, off 201 balls.

A beaming Richards said after the triumph that it had been the best of his 11 first-class centuries.

“It’s probably number one on the list, taking into account the attack it was against, the fact it was in essentially a semi-final, how the pitch played and how my season had gone,” Richards said.

“Obviously the ball moved around quite a bit and there was inconsistent bounce. The new ball was very difficult, it really came through. I just told myself to leave well and move as late as possible, keep batting as simple as possible.

“To get through that period on the first evening was great, I was hit on the hand and it was challenging. But I just tried to watch the ball as closely as I could. I told myself that I can’t change the conditions so I just have to deal with it.

“Credit to the guys for the very crucial partnerships in the middle there, especially on a wicket like this, those were golden.”

Richards also praised the DP World Lions bowlers for keeping the Titans batsmen on the hop.

“The bowlers had it very tough last week on a docile, flat pitch, and they had to bowl 225 overs. As a unit they’ve been exceptional and they’re the ones who keep putting us in a great position, so hats off to them.”

The beers are still on ice, however, in the Pride’s changeroom as they look forward to a massive final against Western Province at the DP World Wanderers Stadium from Wednesday, head coach Russell Domingo ensuring they keep their feet on the ground despite the memorable win at Centurion.

“We’re all very excited to be in the final, particularly after how we started this season. We’ve gone from strength to strength and we’re playing a lot better now. It was not how we wanted to start, but it’s how you finish that matters,” Richards said.

“Russell reminded us now in the changeroom though that we have not won anything yet. We will have to front up again next week, hit the ground running again from Monday, because we start afresh on zero against Western Province.”

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