Zondo smashes Dolphins into T20 Challenge final after Mogakane’s heroics for Warriors

Dolphins opener Khaya Zondo hit a quick-fire 49 off 23 balls against the Warriors on Thursday. Photo: BackpagePix

Dolphins opener Khaya Zondo hit a quick-fire 49 off 23 balls against the Warriors on Thursday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 25, 2024


Khaya Zondo’s quick-fire 49 and Jason Smith’s unbeaten 30 saw the Dolphins book a spot in the final of the CSA T20 Challenge as they beat the Warriors by five wickets at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday night.

Earlier in the second semi-final, the Dolphins sent the visiting side in to bat first, looking to unleash quicks Eathan Bosch and Daryn Dupavillon at the young Warriors batting unit.

Their strategy worked almost instantly as the pacemen kept opening batters Jiveshan Pillay and Matthew Breetzke quiet with tight lines and lengths, reducing the hosts to just six runs in three overs.

With the pressure having built up, Pillay looked to get creative, only to be caught at fine leg by Dupavillon off the bowling of Bosch to leave the visitors on 6-1.

With their tails up, the opening bowlers ran in with purpose as 24-year-old Andile Mogakane joined Breetzke in the middle, looking to add to what has often been fruitful batting pair throughout the tournament.

Mogakane – back at Kingsmead, where his professional career began five years ago – batted with a lot of confidence and put his impeccable technique on full display as he put together a 78-run stand off 56 balls with Breetzke (38 off 35 balls, 1x4,1x6) to rescue the visitors.

The latter would lose his wicket off the spin of Jon-Jon Smuts to hand the Dolphins their second wicket.

Jordan Hermann then joined a free-flowing Mogakane at the crease and played the same hand as Breetzke, running hard between the wickets and turning ones into twos at every opportunity.

Mogakane found boundaries, though – four fours and four sixes – before he lost his wicket to a failed pull that was caught by Prenelan Subrayen at mid-off off the bowling of Dupavillon.

The 24-year-old lost his wicket for a career-best 77 off 44 balls at his old home ground.

Andile Mokgakane played some superb shots in his innings of 77 for the Warriors against the Dolphins on Thursday. Photo: BackpagePix

With Hermann (20 not out off 17, 1x6) left with the responsibility of guiding the team to safety, the Warriors soldiered on, running 25 twos in their innings to set a competitive target of 162.

In reply, the Dolphins sent Khaya Zondo and Grant Roelofsen to open the batting in pursuit of what was undoubtedly a challenging score, given the slow nature of the wicket at Kingsmead.

However, Zondo found boundaries at ease as he took the tournament leading wicket-takers, Beyers Swanepoel and Siya Simetu, apart in the first powerplay.

The 34-year-old right-hander struck five fours and three sixes in his knock of 49 off only 23 deliveries before he fell one run short of a half-century, courtesy of a run-out by Swanepoel.

Roelofsen (16 off 12, 1x6) followed soon after, and the Warriors had their second wicket of the day.

However, the damage had already been done as the Dolphins required 92 in 13.3 overs.

However, this is where the stubbornness of the Warriors manifested once again as left-arm orthodox Simetu bundled out a set Jon-Jon Smuts (34 off 26, 3x4, 1x6) and Marques Ackerman (seven) in the same over to drag the visitors back into the contest.

Swanepoel was brought back into the attack, and the right-arm seamer accounted for the experienced Andile Phehlukwayo (13 off 13, 3x4) to give the Warriors hope of a victory that just was not meant to be.

Batting all-rounder Jason Smith (34 off 18, 2x4, 3x6), stayed composed while the Dolphins were running out of batting options, with 22 runs needed to secure a spot in the final.

The 29-year-old successfully guided the hosts to the final and did so with two overs to spare.

Now, the Dolphins will travel up country to face the Lions in the final at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.