The Paarl Royals may have lost by 59 runs to the Pretoria Capitals in the last round-robin match of the SA20, but they did just enough to sneak into the semi-finals.
The Royals were playing a game within a game after the Capitals posted a mammoth 226/5 in their allotted 20 overs.
Sri Lankan international Kusal Mendis was the mainstay of the Capitals innings with 80 off 41 balls. Colin Ingram (41) and Phil Salt (39) also made worthwhile contributions.
The Paarl-based side’s secondary target was 163 in order to edge out Durban’s Super Giants for the last remaining semi-final spot.
The Super Giants’ hopes were rising when the Royals were reduced to 38/3 in the Powerplay and then a further 101/5 in the 14th over when captain David Miller walked back to the pavilion with seemingly his team’s hopes of progressing with him.
However, the Royals still had Jos Buttler at the crease and England’s limited-overs captain delivered a superb 70 off 45 balls (4×4, 5×6) to take his team to the brink of qualification.
Ten runs were still required off eight balls when Buttler departed though and it was left to Bjorn Fortuin to get the Royals into the semi-finals with a vitally important eight runs off eight deliveries.
The table-topping Capitals, meanwhile, will be glad that they returned to winning ways after their hiccup against the Super Giants with a rematch awaiting them against the Royals in the first semi-final at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
The second SA20 semi-final will see Joburg Super Kings face off against third-placed Sunrisers Eastern Cape at Centurion on Thursday.