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Eagles beat the Dolphins by 15 runs

A wonderful bowling performance strangled the Nashua Dolphins and led the Gestetner Diamond Eagles to victory by 15 runs in their Standard Bank Pro20 match at Goodyear Park in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The Dolphins were chasing just 160 for victory, but were immediately under pressure after a superb spell of fast bowling by Johan van der Wath, after which they were not able to shake off splendid bowling and fielding by the Eagles.

Doug Watson (6) fell in the second over before Van der Wath removed Imraan Khan (14) and Ahmed Amla (0) in the space of three balls either side of a short rain delay.

Van der Wath equalled the records of Tyron Henderson and Charl Willoughby for the best figures in Pro20, finishing with two for eight in four overs, with a maiden, as he prospered on a good pitch for batting thanks to his fire and the extra bounce he extracted.

Dale Benkenstein came in and raced to 25 off 16 balls, punishing Dillon du Preez for two huge sixes and a four in his first over, but the Eagles then struck two major blows when Benkenstein and Hashim Amla were dismissed in successive overs.

Off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala, who once again bowled superbly for the Eagles with one for 26 in his four overs, bowled Benkenstein in the next over, a quicker delivery beating the experienced batsman's pull shot, and Hashim Amla (17) was then trapped leg-before by the canny Nicky Boje (3-0-18-1).

Some late heroics by Morne van Vuuren saw him race to 38 off 31 balls and Lance Klusener finished on 23 not out off 15 balls, but the Eagles always looked in control.

Du Preez returned to have Van Vuuren caught at long-off and he and the impressive Ryan McLaren (4-0-28-1) kept their cool at the death and bowled a full length.

Although the Dolphins were beaten, they can still secure a semi-final berth by beating the Easterns Titans on Friday, but the Eagles ensured that they are also still in contention with their gutsy triumph.

Earlier, a top-class bowling performance by the KZN Dolphins, led by spinner Van Vuuren, restricted the Diamond Eagles to 159 for eight.

Despite another half-century by opening batsman Morne van Wyk, boundaries were relatively scarce for the Eagles, thanks to a fine bowling display by the Dolphins after winning the toss.

Van Wyk batted through to the 14th over for his 54 off 43 balls before being run out as he tripped over bowler Ahmed Amla, who had dived across to get a hand on a drive by Ryan Bailey.

It was a hammer blow for the Eagles, who kept losing wickets just as partnerships were getting going.

Yusuf Abdullah's fine new-ball spell, taking advantage of some movement on offer, ensured the Eagles' start was not a rapid one.

A superb diving catch by Khan removed Jacques Rudolph for two as he lashed a wide ball from Klusener into the covers, but Boje then came in and struck 30 off 16 balls as the run-rate quickened.

But the introduction of slow left-armer Van Vuuren in the ninth over shifted the momentum.

Boje lashed the last ball of a fine first over straight to Khan on the cover boundary and, two balls later, Khan took a fine, juggling catch in the same position to dismiss dangerman Van der Wath for a duck off Andrew Tweedie.

Khan then caught Boeta Dippenaar (7) at a wide long-on to give Van Vuuren his second wicket and claim the record for the most catches (4) in a Pro20 match.

Van Wyk was crucial to the Eagles' hopes as they slipped to 92 for four, but he should have aborted his run after tripping over Amla and the Dolphins were totally in control when Bailey (15) was run out attempting a second run that was never on as Tweedie raced in quickly from the third-man boundary.

McLaren stayed until the penultimate over, scoring 24 off 15 balls before being deceived by left-arm paceman Abdullah's excellent slower ball.

Abdullah finished with two for 29, but Van Vuuren was undoubtedly the pick of the Dolphins bowlers, finishing with two for 15 in his four overs.

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