Knights clinch epic despite Parnell’s late heroics

In what turned out to be an incredibly memorable game, the ITEC Knights claimed a thrilling four-run victory over the Six Gun Grill Western Province in the second CSA Provincial T20 Knock Out quarter-final hosted at The Oval, Kimberley today.

Rilee Rossouw crunched a career-best 112* runs off just 55 balls, including seven fours and an astonishing eight sixes alongside Farhaan Behardien’s “more measured” 57 off 29 (4 fours, 5 sixes)  to launch the Free State side to a commanding innings total of 223/3.

Six Gun Grill Western Province put up a valiant fight in reply, with captain Wayne Parnell at his destructive best, coming in at eight to smash the tournament’s fastest fifty to take his team within touching distance of victory, albeit with the help of a generous final over from Migael Pretorius (2/32), before his side’s fate was sealed.

After winning the toss, the Knights wasted no time in choosing to bat first at a ground they used to call their second home during the previous domestic system.

Despite losing the early wicket of Patrick Kruger (4), Jacques Snyman (32) found the perfect partner in the destructive Rossouw as the pair put on 52 runs for the second wicket. That solid stand preceded what became the telling moment of the game, with Behardien moving up the order to join Rossouw at the crease and continue their fantastic combination that emanated from the group stage action.

The left and the right-handed duo proved to be a cut above their bowling counterparts on the day, dispatching the ball to all parts of the ground, including a few out the ground, to record a 130-run partnership off 10.3 overs.

Behardien was the last wicket to fall in the Knights innings, with the evergreen 38-year old bagging his 13th T20 half-century and the second of the tournament.

Rossouw ended his knock undefeated, adding a few more lusty blows in the final over, bringing up his third consecutive 50+ outing with the bat and the highest individual of the competition, and at The Oval, Kimberley.

Nandre Burger finished as Province’s most economical bowler, grabbing one wicket for 36 runs in his four overs.

Faced with an uphill battle to advance into the next round and needing to bat at more than 11 runs an over to win, opener Hamza had to go for it from ball one and did exactly that, scoring a boundary off the first ball.

Hamza (19) and his opening partner, Tony de Zorzi (21) made early inroads into the large target, combining for 36 runs for the first wicket before Alfred Mothoa and his distinct bowling action bamboozled Hamza, rearranging his stumps.

De Zorzi didn’t last long too thereafter, as it became a trend in the innings where the WP batters established a start at the crease before the Knights made the breakthrough at pivotal moments, as Jonathan Bird (32) and Kyle Verreynne (16) all departed after getting their eye in.

Entering the fray with the score at 105/5 in the 12th over, skipper Parnell took on the responsibility of getting the runs himself and showcased his all-round abilities.

He butchered the ball out of the stadium on numerous occasions on his way to 80 not out off 29 deliveries (6 fours, 6 sixes), where he also teamed up with Aviwe Mgijima (22) in a partnership worth 60 runs to provide a glimmer of hope to his side.

With 29 runs still left on the board for victory going into the last over, a strange set of events followed to keep WP in the hunt midway through the over. There were 10 balls bowled in the final six legal deliveries of the match, owing to three wides and a no-ball that were coupled with two sixes and a four off Parnell’s willow.

Mothoa was the pick of the bowlers for the Knights with two key wickets for 35 runs in his four allotted overs.

Despite the crazy finish, the Knights sealed an emphatic win to stake their claim as the tournament’s most lethal team and will await the winner of the fourth quarter-final between the GbetsRocks and the North West Dragons in Thursday’s semi-final.