Central Gauteng Lions captain Mangaliso Mosehle has hailed their Africa T20 Cup success as ‘a beautiful journey’, saying it is the result of strong character and consistency from his players after they edged to the 2018/19 title on Monday.
The ever-consistent Nono Pongolo starred with bat and ball as the Johannesburg-based side clinched a tense three-wicket win over Border in the Heritage Day final in East London.
The 29-year-old first claimed a career-best three for 20, before top scoring with a telling 30 not out as Central Gauteng Lions first bowled out the opposition for 130 and then chased down the victory target with four balls to spare.
“He (Nono) played well,” Mosehle said. “He had a fantastic game. He’s always been a good cricketer, very handy, very experienced and a player who understands situations, so he’s been good for the young guys in terms of leadership and helping out as well.
“I just knew he was going to take us over the line.”
Nandre Burger (3/27), Delano Potgieter (23), Carmi le Roux (23) and Temba Bavuma (27) were the other key performers on the day, handing their side the crown for the first time.
The champions had initially reached the play-offs by topping Pool B last weekend when they won three out of four games – their solitary loss coming to rivals Northerns after they had already sealed the number one berth.
“It’s been a beautiful journey,” Mosehle explained. “I won’t lie, we were under pressure coming into the tournament. Our preparation didn’t go so well, but the guys were always resilient during the matches we played.
“They were always able to stay calm under pressure and we’ve managed to win close games. It just showed the character that the guys had, so I'm very proud of them.”
In the semi-final on Finals Weekend, they thumped North West by 27 runs thanks to Bavuma and Wiaan Mulder half-centuries, with another rookie Tumelo Tlhokwe leading a polished bowling display.
Their star men overall were Delano Potgieter after the ended as the competition’s second highest run scorer with 217 runs and also claimed the joint third most wickets (nine).
Burger, meanwhile, was the top wicket-taker in the competition with 11 wickets at the phenomenal average of 10.45 and economy rate of 5.79 runs per over.
Mosehle felt that players came to the party in the final because of being put in those situations earlier in the tournament. “We’ve been in so many situations like that and I think those situations were what helped us at the end,” he added. “They gave us a lot of confidence and we were able to go through some of those situations consistently.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on, that resilience and bounce back ability. And like I said, a lot of the guys were calm throughout the tournament, under pressure as well.
“Obviously not having won and coming close to win on previous occasions and considering where we were a couple of weeks ago, it’s a fantastic feeling so I'm super proud of the players.”