The VKB Knights will host the Momentum One-Day Qualifier on Sunday after they beat the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in a low-scoring thriller at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday night.
In a see-saw affair, the visitors made heavy work of a modest 205 target and had to rely on an unbeaten last wicket stand of 27 to get them over the line with four balls to spare. Sammy Mofokeng (17) and Marchant de Lange (7) were the heroes in a remarkable game that could so easily have gone either way.
Dillon du Preez and Imran Tahir claimed 4/31 apiece for their respective sides, but it boiled down to nerves at the end as the Knights held theirs in what was essentially a quarter-final meeting.
The Central franchise will now host the Warriors in Bloemfontein in the next round, with the Multiply Titans awaiting the winner in the March 31 final.
But they had to work hard to get there, despite a disciplined performance with the ball after they had lost the toss and were asked to bowl first.
The home side were in trouble from the outset after losing in-form openers Morne van Wyk (11) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (8) inside the first six overs. The visiting bowlers continued to chip away through the likes of Shadley van Schalkwyk (2/34) and Mofokeng (2/45).
Despite the efforts of top-scorer Sarel Erwee (44), the Dolphins were in a defensive mode for most of their innings, but did manage to pass 200 thanks to Andile Phehlukwayo (39), Robbie Frylinck (36) and Prenelan Subrayen (25).
The Knights then looked to be cruising to victory thanks to an opening stand of 61 between Rudi Second (39) and Tumelo Bodibe (20). But a collapse of five wickets for 12 runs saw the visitors plunge from 61/0 to 73/5 – David Miller amongst the wickets to fall when he was dismissed by Tahir for a first ball duck.
But a 56-run sixth wicket stand between captain Pite van Biljon (44) and Aubrey Swanepoel (42) looked to have steadied the ship, and they looked in more control after the latter was part of a 42-run seventh wicket stand.
More drama followed with three more quick wickets leaving the Knights on 180/9, but Mofokeng and De Lange squeezed their side home.