A century from David Miller trumped tons by Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius as the VKB Knights just about held their nerve to oust the bizhub Highveld Lions by four runs in their high-stakes Momentum One-Day Cup clash in Kimberley on Tuesday.
An aggregate of 618 runs were scored at the Diamond Oval as the home side batted first and amassed 311/6, before the visitors and reigning champions were restricted to 307/6 to end their hopes of defending their title.
It was a valiant effort by the Lions, led by a career-best 115 (79 balls, 8 fours, 4 sixes) from Standard Bank Proteas all-rounder Pretorius, as well as 102 (138 balls, 6 fours) from Van der Dussen.
But it was the effort of Miller that proved the difference after he made an unbeaten 123 (86 balls, 7 fours 6 sixes) after his side had made a solid start when they won the toss and batted at the start of proceedings.
Keegan Petersen had done the early work with his 75 (108 balls, 5 fours, 1 six), before Miller walked in and smashed it to all parts in compiling just his second franchise-level one-day ton and eighth overall.
Aya Myoli was the pick of the bowlers with 2/48.
The Lions looked like they would fold easily after they lost four wickets with just over 100 on the board – including two wickets for Aubrey Swanepoel (2/44).
But Van der Dussen and Pretorius combined for a record 144-run fifth wicket stand, a record for their side, to raise hope in the dressing room. Even after opener Van der Dussen fell for his eighth career hundred with 61 needed from 29 balls, Wiaan Mulder kept them on course thanks to his unbeaten 30 from 15 balls.
But the Knights grabbed big fish Pretorius, who struck his maiden one-day century, with 17 needed from 8 balls to virtually sew up the game.
The result meant it was the Knights that continued their rise up the table after they jumped to third with a place in the play-offs now in their own hands when they travel to Durban to play the Hollywoodbets Dolphins on Thursday.