Cricket: Lions falter in thrilling South African T20 run-in

Leaders Highveld Lions lost and fellow title challengers Knights, Titans and Warriors won Friday to set up a thrilling climax to the South African Twenty20 Challenge mini-league.

Lions, who suffered two defeats this week, have 25 points, title-holders Titans 22 and Knights 21 with one match left each and Warriors 20 with two games remaining.

The team finishing first automatically qualifies for the April 7 final while those coming second and third play off for the other place in a match that will draw the curtain on the South African domestic season.

Lions host Dolphins in Johannesburg next week, Knights and Titans square off in Bloemfontein and Warriors are away to out-of-contention teams Dolphins in Durban and Cape Cobras in Cape Town.

Dolphins made 143-5 at SuperSport Park in Centurion and Titans overtook them with seven balls to spare, scoring 145-6 with Farhaan Behardien (34 not out) leading the run charge.

Christiaan Jonker (42) helped Warriors to 142-7 at Saint George's Park in Port Elizabeth and the Lions fell four runs short, scoring 138-6 with veteran Neil McKenzie (55 not out) once more the batting mainstay.

There was also a tense finish at Chevrolet Park in Bloemfontein as Knights reached 143-3 with just two balls to spare as they chased Cobras' 140-7. Knight Dean Elgar (56 not out) and Cobra Justin Ontong (51 not out) starred.