A collective bowling effort handed the Paarl Rocks a crushing 86-run victory over the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League 2.0 at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday.
The Rocks had posted a competitive total of 170 for nine after Faf du Plessis had won the toss and elected to bat first. With the Blitz’s top-order in some form after their victory over the current champions, the Jozi Stars, on Friday evening, the crowd was anticipating an exciting chase but Du Plessis’s bowlers had other ideas.
The Blitz were bundled out for their lowest MSL total of just 84, surpassing their previous lowest of 113 for nine against the Stars last season. Such was the poor effort from the visiting batsmen that the top-score came from the left-handed George Linde, who scored 15 from 16 balls.
The top three of Quinton de Kock (14), Janneman Malan (12) and Moeen Ali (13) all made starts but lost their wickets at crucial times while Englishman Liam Livingston (5), Mohammad Nawaz (6) and Aviwe Mgijima (2) failed to trouble the scorers much.
It was the hard seam of Hardus Viljoen (2-0-9-2) that started the rot when he had De Kock brilliantly caught by Bjorn Fortuin, leaping up at backward point. Man of the match Viljoen then grabbed Malan in his next over, edging a slower bouncer through to Mangaliso Mosehle behind the stumps.
Fortuin (3-0-13-2) who had dismantled the Blitz in the corresponding fixture last year, then had Ali caught down at long-off after the English allrounder had cracked two good-looking boundaries. Du Plessis worked his bowlers well, switching them from end to end and the introduction of Dwaine Pretorius (2-0-11-1) brought about the wicket of Livingston, who moved across his stumps and saw his leg stump flattened.
With the top four danger men all back in the hut, the Rocks kept up the pressure, never allowing the visitors the get back into the game as Tabraiz Shamsi (3-0-16-3) finished off the game as a contest, removing Nawaz, caught and bowled, Linde stumped and Sisanda Magala (0) clean-bowled.
Isuru Udana (2.4-0-14-1) finished the match as Anrich Nortje 4) handed Shamsi an easy catch at square leg.
Earlier, Henry Davids (38), Du Plessis (38) and Pretorius (34) gave the home side a competitive edge, posting a strong 57 for one at the end of the Powerade Power Play. At the halfway mark, the Rocks had reached 98 for two with Cameron Delport (19) and Davids back in the hut.
Delport and Davids had given the home side a good start with an aggressive opening stand of 41 from only 27 balls before Nortje (4-0-31-3) had Delport caught by Malan at mid-on after mis-queuing a pull shot. The departure of the big-hitting left-hander did not stem the flow of runs as Du Plessis and Davids continued the flow.
The pair added 38 off 25 balls for the second wicket before Linde (4-0-23-3) clean-bowled Davids, who went for a big slog down towards cow-corner. Du Plessis and Pretorius then quickly added 28 off 14 balls before a hesitation on going for a second run saw then end of Du Plessis’ innings, who had struck one four and four maximums from 20 balls.
Du Plessis’ hesitation allowed Vernon Philander to throw from deep mid-wicket and the accurate throw over the stumps allowed De Kock to knock the bails off with Du Plessis just short of his crease. Pretorius cracked two sixes before dragging a slower ball from Nortje onto his stumps and this allowed the Blitz to get back into the match, after Linde removed Viljoen (4) and Mosehle (8).
With Udana (6) being brilliantly caught by Linde, running from around from long-off and taking a diving catch, and Ferisco Adams (1) falling cheaply to Sisanda Magala (3-0-23-1), Sibonelo Makhanya struck Nortje for a four and a six in the final over to end unbeaten on 16 not out and move the Rocks to within 10 runs of the target set by Du Plessis at the toss.
The Blitz need to pick themselves up as they prepare for a rematch against the Jozi Stars in Cape Town on Thursday while the Rocks travel to Durban to take on the Durban Heat.