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Otto sets up last-ball victory for Lions

The Highveld Lions rode to a stunning victory off the last ball of their Pro20 Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Durban on Wednesday night.

The Highveld Lions rode to victory off the last ball of their Pro20 Series match against the KZN Dolphins in Durban on Wednesday on the back of a sparkling innings from young gun Marthinus Otto.

Chasing 165, the Lions innings began at a crawl against a superb opening two overs by Lance Klusener, became a gallop and then ended in a canter as 54 runs were plundered off the last four overs.

Otto clubbed 31 not out off just 14 balls to fire the Lions to victory, hitting two muscular leg-side sixes. But it fell to big Eugene Moleon to display granitic composure as he managed to get Russel Symcox away leg-side for the two runs off the last ball that were required for victory.

Klusener was full of fire with the new ball, showing all his experience as his first two overs cost just three runs.

But Adam Bacher and Matthew Harris pounced as soon as he was replaced by the inexperienced Ugeshan Govender, whose two overs cost 29 runs.

Harris was run out for 19 by Imraan Khan, but Bacher continued to ride his luck, scoring 29 off 21 balls, with three fours and two sixes.

The accurate Zahir Abrahim had Bacher caught at long-on and when Vaughn van Jaarsveld was stumped off lob bowler Ahmed Amla for a run-a-ball 22, the Dolphins were in control with the Lions on 94 for three in the 14th over.

Lions captain Neil McKenzie weighed in with 35 off 31 balls however, his three fours and a six being the products of fine inventiveness, to keep his team in the match.

Klusener returned to bowl McKenzie with a superb in-swinging yorker, but the ink was barely dry on the match reports proclaiming the Dolphins as the winners when the Lions staged a dramatic late comeback.

It was just over two weeks ago that Ashraf Mall played for the Dolphins in the SuperSport Series final, but he is now a Lions player, having decided he could fit in some Pro20 cricket while he starts a new business venture in Gauteng.

With 17 needed off eight balls, he struck a crucial six off Klusener, with the assistance of debutant Morne van Vuuren on the square-leg boundary, who misjudged the catch and palmed the ball over the boundary.

With 10 wanted off the last over it fell to the latest Symcox of that cricketing dynasty to secure the sort of win grandparents are always going on about.

He had Mall caught behind off a thin edge with the second ball, but Otto was still there to sneak the Lions home.

Bacher was the star performer for the Lions in the field as he pinned the KZN Dolphins back to 164 for four, after a total nearing 200 was on the cards.

The Dolphins won the toss and elected to bat first and the openers, Hashim Amla and Kyle Smit, got them off to the best of starts, putting on 84 in 9.5 overs.

Amla hammered 56 off 39 balls with eight fours, the highlight of his blistering innings being successive boundaries straight back over the head of Garnett Kruger.

It was also a noteworthy debut for Smit, who scored 27 off 24 balls, including a pull for six off Enoch Nkwe.

The tide turned, however, with the introduction of the slow medium-pace of Bacher in the 10th over.

In a year in which he has resurrected his international career, Bacher showed his worth with the ball on good batting pitches, dismissing both Amla and Smit in successive overs.

Shaun Pollock came in at number three for the Dolphins and was on song, smashing 44 off just 22 balls, in which he cleared the boundary three times. The persevering Bacher forced him to hole out on the long-on boundary however, and the KZN innings fell away thereafter.

After the hundred had been raised in the 13th over, the Dolphins failed to kick on.

Bacher was the pick of the bowlers with the outstanding figures of three for 14 in four overs, but the efforts of David Terbrugge (four overs for 30) and Kruger (four overs, one for 25) at the death were also impressive.

Bacher was the pick of the bowlers with the outstanding figures of three for 14 in four overs, but the efforts of David Terbrugge (four overs for 30) and Kruger (four overs, one for 25) at the death were also impressive. Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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