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Shirin Sadikot in Durban

Tsolekile wants an all South African final

Lions wicketkeeper also revels in beating strong IPL sides on way to CLT20 final

“Does it come bigger than this?” beamed Thami Tsolekile when asked how it felt for the Lions to make it to the final of CLT20 2012. The wicketkeeper-batsman was soaking in the winning feeling after the Lions defeated a formidable Delhi Daredevils side in the first semi-final. “The most beautiful thing about this win,” he said, “is that each and every guy has contributed to it.”

Tsolelike’s words were no different from those uttered by cricketers after a routine post-win interview; but the level of genuineness was. After putting 139 on board against a team comprising Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor, even some diehards hesitated to give the Lions a chance. But those watching from the outside didn’t have one thing that the men in red on the field did – belief.

“We knew that 140 wasn’t enough and we probably were around 10-15 runs short. But we didn’t give up. We had to bowl really well and the guys did just that,” a proud Tsolekile said of his team.

On their way to the final, the Lions have now defeated three of the strongest sides participating in the tournament. They started their campaign by prevailing against the defending champions, Mumbai Indians. Then they humbled the mighty Chennai Super Kings, who have been the most consistent team in the IPL. And now, they have a managed a win over perhaps the most balanced IPL side in these conditions. Tsolekile admits this feeling is like a dream.

“I’ll be very honest. Coming into the tournament we were the underdogs and we knew that beating the big IPL teams is not going to be easy. Credit must go to all the players, the management and the coaching staff. We’ve got nothing to lose from here. But I’m very, very glad that we’re playing the final at the Bullring.”

Lions making it to the final also means that Tsolekile’s life as a cricketer has just got busier. He is part of South Africa’s Test squad for the tour of Australia. With AB de Villiers recovering from his recurring lower back pain, Tsolekile might have a role to play in the series Down Under. But all that he has on his mind right now is the glittering CLT20 trophy.

“If we would have lost this game, we were supposed to leave on Saturday with the team but will now have to leave two days later. Right now the most important thing is to play the final for the Lions and win it,” he said, also hinting which team out of the Sydney Sixers and Titans he’d like to win in the second semi-final.

“It would be nice to have an all South African final.”

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