The DP World Lions were facing a tough final day at the office in their CSA 4-Day Domestic Series game against Six Gun Grill Western Province, but Bjorn Fortuin completed a magnificent all-round match as he bowled them to a thrilling 28-run win at the DP World Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.
The Lions began the last day on 229 for five, leading by just 129 runs. But new cap Connor Esterhuizen (40) batted impressively with Fortuin to extend their sixth-wicket partnership to 77.
Fortuin, who rescued the Lions first innings with his brilliant 123 not out, once again dug deep and produced another fine innings as he added a further 54 for the seventh wicket with Sisanda Magala, who struck an important, fiery 35 with five fours and a six off 43 balls.
Fortuin was eventually dismissed for 65 as the Lions were bowled out for 315, leaving log-leaders Western Province with a target of 216 for victory.
The Proteas white-ball representative then opened the bowling for the Lions with his left-arm spin, and produced a scintillating performance as he took six for 69 in 20 overs to bowl Western Province out for 187.
Having scored 188 runs for once out and taken nine wickets in the match, one of the great all-round performances in Lions’ history, Fortuin was the obvious choice for the official man of the match award.
Fortuin struck in the seventh over, getting through left-hander Jonathan Bird’s defences to bowl him for 6, but Eddie Moore (59) and Daniel Smith (61) were able to block further progress for the home side with their second-wicket stand of 106.
But the persevering Fortuin removed both of them and with Codi Yusuf having first-innings centurion Zubayr Hamza caught behind by Esterhuizen for 5 with an excellent delivery, the Lions sensed a chance to squeeze the visitors.
From 151 for three, needing just 65 more runs to win, Fortuin and Magala, who produced some exceptional seam bowling late in the day to finish with three for 26 in 10 overs, claimed the last seven wickets for just 36 runs.
The key wickets were both claimed via superb deliveries as Fortuin pitched a delivery on middle and hit off-stump to bowl the in-form Kyle Verreynne for 8, and Magala turned Mihlali Mpongwana square as he hit the top-of-off stump to castle him for 8 too.
The victory, coupled with the second-placed Dafabet Warriors also losing, puts the Lions back in contention for the four-day title with two rounds remaining.