Patrick Kruger starred with bat and ball to set the VKB Knights up for a winning start to the T20 Challenge as they eased to a 38-run bonus-point win over the BuildNat Cape Cobras in the competition opener at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.
The right-hander, one of the stars of the Africa T20 Cup earlier in the season, first struck a scintillating 74 (49 balls, 7 fours, 4 sixes) as the Central franchise amassed 184/8 after they lost the toss and were asked to bat first.
Kruger then delivered a career-best 2/30 as the Cobras were bowled out for 146. The clash was the first of a double-header at the Highveld venue.
The 21-year-old Kruger, who was the third highest scorer in the season-opening 20-over competition to lead the Northern Cape to a runners-up finish, was the anchor for much of the innings. He put on 72 with Rudi Second (21) for the first wicket, and then added 27 and 36 with Pite van Biljon (17) and Diego Rosier (27) for the third and fourth wickets respectively.
Blockbuster Knights signing David Miller failed on his T20 debut for his new team with just 2, while another player making his first appearance in this format, Marchant de Lange, shone with 22 off 10.
Dane Paterson was the pick of the bowlers with 3/40, while promising all-rounder Jason Smith picked up 2/25, including the wicket of Kruger, who was eventually out at the end of the 16th over. George Linde collected 2/34.
The Cobras were always chasing the game after losing a wicket with only two on the board – Cebo Tshiki dismissed for a duck by De Lange, the pick of the bowlers with 3/17. The fast bowler also dismissed Richard Levi (25) shortly afterwards.
Dillon du Preez (1/19)then removed Justin Ontong (1), while Smith (12) fell to Tshepo Ntuli (1/20), leaving the total on 53/4.
Keegan Petersen hit a valiant 39, but Kruger dismissed both the top-scorer and West Indian superstar Kieron Pollard (5) in the same over to knock the stuffing out of the Cobras.
Despite some late blows by Linde (30 off 17), the Cape side were all out in 17.2 overs.