AB de Villiers slays the Lions attack at SuperSport Park on Sunday, November 12 2017. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES
AB de Villiers slays the Lions attack at SuperSport Park on Sunday, November 12 2017. Picture: LEE WARREN/GALLO IMAGES

Sarel Erwee’s century grabbed headlines in the first round of franchise T20 matches, but what will stick in the memory is AB de Villiers hammering Kagiso Rabada for consecutive sixes to secure victory.

Almost forgotten already are the hard-hit half-centuries Theunis de Bruyn and David Miller scored to win the opening game of the competition.

And there’s more good news to follow this week in the shape of Dale Steyn’s return from a year out of action because of a shoulder injury.

All of which makes exactly the kind of impact organisers would have hoped for in an event that was born as a dowdy second prize after the collapse of plans to play the inaugural T20 Global League in October.

Even the weather played ball with a highveld thunderstorm serving as a spectacular show and not getting in the way of the cricket too much‚ in a double-header in Centurion on Sunday.

Opener Erwee’s undefeated 103 off 58 balls and Khaya Zondo’s 67 not out — and their stand of 136 — guided the Dolphins to a tournament record total of 231/2 in the first game.

The Cobras could not stop the bleeding despite their attack harbouring internationals Vernon Philander‚ Dane Paterson‚ Rory Kleinveldt and JP Duminy, who all went for more than 10 runs an over.

Hashim Amla‚ who watched the Cobras shamble to 20/3 inside four overs of their reply‚ scored a stylish 52 not out. But that was not enough to get his team to the revised target of 124 from 10 overs and the Dolphins won by 15 runs.

De Villiers sent what became the last two balls of the Titans’ game against the Lions‚ which was reduced to 15 overs a side‚ arching into the night sky to seal an eight-wicket win. One of those blows was delivered with a knee on the ground‚ a pose that would be suitable for a statue that will surely grace Centurion once De Villiers has retired.

All Rabada could do was crack a wry smile and nod his appreciation for a superb display by De Villiers‚ whose 50 not out flew off 19 balls‚ and Albie Morkel‚ who made his unbeaten 41 off 16 deliveries.

Reeza Hendricks’s 67 not out for the Lions looked pedestrian by comparison.

It was all quite different from Friday’s events at St George’s Park‚ where the Knights needed their steeds to break into barely a canter to race past the Warriors by eight wickets.

The home side crashed to 69/5, before recovering to 153/9 with the help of Christiaan Jonker’s 61.

De Bruyn and Miller made light of all that with an unbroken stand of 142 to clinch victory with a dozen balls to spare.

De Bruyn’s 78 not out came off 48 balls and featured three fours and six sixes.

Miller hit his unbeaten 62 off 47 balls with seven fours and three sixes.

The Knights might have a tougher job on their hands in Kimberley on Wednesday‚ when Steyn is expected to be part of the Titans XI.