The Highveld Lions’ seven-wicket defeat at the hands of the Warriors in Tuesday night’s domestic T20 playoff in Port Elizabeth mirrored their campaign perfectly.
Geoff Toyana’s have never really looked like potential champions, as evidenced by a neutral record of five wins and five losses in the round-robin.
That inconsistency was apparent again.
The Lions wasted a decent platform as they struggled to an inadequate 136/7.
Admittedly, a typically slow St George’s Park pitch – that granted the spinners much assistance – made strokeplay difficult but they surely could’ve mustered a tad more runs after reaching 77/2 at the halfway stage of their innings.
That said, Reeza Hendricks (33 off 33) and Mangaliso Mosehle (25 off 24) hardly scored at rates that would’ve put the varied Warriors attack under pressure.
After they were dismissed, the Lions’ longstanding lack of six-hitting power was exposed once again.
Nicky van der Bergh was painful to watch during his 14 off 17 deliveries, while Dwaine Pretorius hit no boundaries in his run-a-ball 12.
Jon-Jon Smuts useful left-arm spinners strangled the Lions yet the real thorn in the flesh was Colin Ingram.
The experienced former Proteas batsman bowled his part-time leg-spinners to good effect, picking up Van der Bergh as well as Temba Bavuma’s (10) wickets.
Losing frontline batters to Ingram was close to a cardinal sin.
He also shone with the bat, skilfully crafting his half-century (56* off 46) after a cautious start.
The 31-year-old though didn’t need to be overly aggressive initially as Clyde Fortuin (27 off 16) smartly realised the best time to attack on this surface was with the new ball against the faster bowlers.
The going was slower against the tweakers – Aaron Phangiso (1/24) was canny – but the Warriors’ ability to keep wickets in hand meant the Lions never had enough runs to play with.
The Eastern Cape franchise take on the Titans in Friday’s final.