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Johannesburg - The power-hitting of Dwaine Pretorius led the Highveld Lions to a seven-wicket victory over the Titans in their T20 Challenge match at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
Pretorius helped himself to three fours and four sixes as he bashed 42 runs off 20 balls to carry the Lions to 150 for three in 18.5 overs and victory with seven balls to spare.
Pacemen Sohail Tanvir and Hardus Viljoen, and spinner Aaron Phangiso, had earlier claimed two wickets apiece in a stellar all-round bowling performance by the Lions that restricted the Titans to 148 for seven after they were sent in to bat.
The Titans did themselves no favours by dropping two catches in the opening over and then missing a stumping off Neil McKenzie, who played a key hand in scoring 32 not out, when he had just 11.
Gulam Bodi was dropped by Jacques Rudolph on four off the fourth ball of the innings, but he was not able to fully capitalise, being bowled by Ethy Mbhalati for 17.
Quinton de Kock, who was dropped two balls after Bodi, by Marchant de Lange, when he had just one run, continued in the same vein as his previous innings - his record-breaking 126 not out against the Cape Cobras - but was not able to finish the job this time as he fell for 47 off 40 deliveries, also bowled by Mbhalati.
The Titans were not out of the contest, with the Lions needing 99 off 11 overs, but wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle then fumbled a stumping offered by McKenzie when he came down the pitch to Links and slipped.
McKenzie played the anchor role as he scored his runs off 34 balls, but it was Pretorius who took control as he showed his ability to find the boundary.
He had taken the Lions to the brink of victory when he was brilliantly caught by a diving Rudolph at extra cover off Mbhalati, leaving captain Jean Symes to hit the winning boundary off the next delivery.
Earlier, both Henry Davids and Farhaan Behardien had looked about to launch the Titans' innings when they were dismissed for 36 apiece, Davids being bowled by a beautiful Phangiso arm-ball, while Behardien was well caught by diving wicketkeeper De Kock off Viljoen.
The visitors were assisted in posting a competitive score by David Wiese's 28 not out off 24 balls.
Left-arm spinner Phangiso continued to dazzle in T20 cricket with two for 24 in four overs, while Imran Tahir was also accurate with his leg-breaks, conceding just 26 runs in his full quota of overs.
But Tanvir was the most impressive of the bowlers, finishing with two for 21, and the Titans batsmen did not seem to know exactly how to deal with the unorthodox left-armer. - Sapa