In a game designed for batsmen it was left to two outstanding bowling performances, from Charl Willoughby and Alan Dawson, to lead the Nasua Cape Cobras to victory.
In a game designed for batsmen it was left to two outstanding bowling performances, from Charl Willoughby and Alan Dawson, to lead the Nasua Cape Cobras to a thrilling five- run victory in their Standard Bank Pro20 match against the Highveld Lions at Newlands on Sunday.
Chasing a modest 155-6 on a good batting pitch, Neil McKenzie's high-flying Lions were brought down to earth by an almost unplayable spell of swing bowling from left armer Willoughby that earned him a return of 1-15 from his four overs but also contained one of the rarest commodities in the Pro-20 format - a maiden.
The Lions slumped to 150-8 in reply and the home side, who have endured a dreadful one-day season having failed to win a single Standard Bank Cup match in ten attempts, almost certainly qualified for the Pro20 semi finals with their second victory in three matches.
Needing 13 to win from the final over bowled by seasoned veteran Alan Dawson, Justin Ontong struck a two followed by a single before Zimbabwean all rounder Andy Blignaut played an outrageous lap-sweep to the fine leg boundary and celebrated prematurely with a clenched fist as just six runs were required from the final three balls.
But the next ball was played straight back to Dawson who ran out Ontong at the non-striker's end for a hard-hitting 26 from eight deliveries and the same fate befell new batsman Gerhard de Bruin when Blignaut sent him back having hit the fifth ball straight to extra cover.
Blignaut, requiring six off the final ball, could do nothing with the full, wide delivery outside off stump that Dawson delivered and the game was over - much to the Blignaut's distress having crashed an unbeaten 42 from just 28 balls with six fours and a six.
Willoughby's maiden was just the 22nd bowled in three years of Pro20 cricket. There have been 35 fifties by batsmen. The Cobra's own total had earlier been established by two of the smallest professional cricketers in the country, Dominic Telo (48) and Thami Tsolekile (38 not out), who added 57 for the fourth wicket at good pace.
Left hander Telo, just 19-years-old, timed the ball with remarkable consistency and found gaps in the field with regularity with his 48 runs coming from just 33 balls and including five fours and a six.
Tsolekile relied on improvisation rather than power with several sweep shots against the faster bowlers earning him unlikely boundaries over the 'keepers head and down to fine leg. His unbeaten 38 came from just 29 balls with four boundaries.
Renier Munnik smashed a quickfire 19 from just seven balls with a pair of midwicket sixes in the final two overs to push the total over 150 but two direct-hit run outs from Lions captain McKenzie slowed the home side's progress and their final total, on an excellent batting wicket, looked modest. And but for the skill of Willoughby and nerve of Dawson, it wouldn't have been enough.