Recalled England batsman Kevin Pietersen finally clicked at the Champions League Twenty20 tournament on Thursday, but could not prevent the Delhi Daredevils making a semi-finals exit.
Pietersen struck 50 off 44 balls against the South African Highveld Lions at a cold and windy Kingsmead after meager contributions of 14 and nine in previous innings at the rain-hit event.
Lions made 139-5 after being put in to bat and Delhi responded with 117-9 after a seven-runs-an-over chase fell behind the required run rate after just six overs and never caught up.
While Pietersen remained at the crease there was a slim hope but that disappeared after 16.1 overs when he top-edged a ball to short fine leg and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile scampered to take the catch.
Pietersen struck three fours and a six and now turns his attention to a tour of India by England, ending a two-month exile after he criticized his teammates in text messages to South African opponents during a Test series.
“Apologies to all the @DelhiDaredevils fans! We should have done better today! On a more positive note — I’ll be in India Sunday ... Can’t wait!” tweeted Pietersen after the match.
Delhi sprang a selection surprise by omitting Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene and introducing Australian David Warner, who was the second highest scorer with 21, while South African tail-ender Morne Morkel made 18 not out.
Chris Morris (2-7), Aaron Phangiso (2-18) and Australian Dirk Nannes (2-34) were the pick of the bowlers for the Lions, who will have home ground advantage tomorrow in the final against the Sydney Sixers or the Centurion-based Titans.
Opener Gulam Bodi (50), man-of-the-match Neil McKenzie (46 not out) and skipper Alviro Petersen (24) were the best of the Lions’ batsmen while Umesh Yadav (2-20) offered most in the Delhi attack.
Daredevils were the only Indian Premier League franchise to qualify for the semi-finals from the 10-team mini-league phase with defending champions the Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders flopping.