Bjorn Fortuin and Faf du Plessis combined to hand the Paarl Rocks their first Mzansi Super League T20 victory with a comfortable five-wicket win over the Cape Town Blitz at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday.
The Blitz had won their first four games to sit top of the log and were looking for their fifth win but four wickets from the left-arm spin of Fortuin and a wonderful 54 for the Rocks captain gave the home side their first victory of the Mzansi Super League, ending on 144 for five with seven balls remaining.
The Rocks were set a meager target of just 141 and their chase started in disastrous fashion as Dale Steyn (3-0-21-2) grabbed two wickets in his first over, having Henry Davids (1) caught at third man by George Linde and the Aiden Markram caught at short mid-wicket by Hussain Talat to leave the home side reeling on three for two.
But Du Plessis and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (32) settled the nerves with a well-worked stand of 67 for the third wicket off 51 balls but then Van Jaarsveld, who had struck four boundaries from 26 balls, tried to reverse-sweep Linde (4-0-26-1), only to find Asif Ali at short third man.
The home side would have felt that this might not be their game after all as Dane Piedt (3-0-18-1) had David Wiese caught at short mid-wicket by Ferisco Adams for just 11 but Mangaliso Mosehle provided the perfect foil, making an unbeaten 28 from 26 deliveries, with just one boundary, as he an Du Plessis took their side to the brink of victory with a stand of 38 from 34 balls for the fifth wicket.
Confusion reigned though near the end as Du Plessis struck a full ball from Malusi Siboto (3-0-30-1) straight to Janneman Malan on the square-leg boundary. The umpires, Lubabalo Gcuma and Murray Brown conferred as to whether the delivery was above waist height. The question was sent up to the third umpire, Clifford Isaacs but Gcuma made the decision himself and ruled the ball to be a no-ball.
But Isaacs made his way onto the field and advised that his ruling was that the delivery was in fact legal and Du Plessis had to make his way off after having faced 39 balls with six boundaries to his name.
But Mosehle and Fortuin (6 not out) took their side home with Fortuin striking a ball straight past Andile Phehlukwayo (2.5-0-26-0) for four to win the game and hand the Rocks their first Mzansi Super League victory.
Earlier, Farhaarn Behardien had won the toss and elected to bat first with Quinton de Kock looking to carry on from where he left off against the Jozi Stars on Saturday evening. The Proteas wicketkeeper had struck 74 from 36 balls in Johannesburg and found some early form as he struck three fours and two sixes but then a rush of blood saw him launch Fortuin (4-0-15-4) up into the air to be caught by Du Plessis at mid-on for 31 from just 16 balls.
Malan (29) and Phehlukwayo (24) then added 47 runs for the second wicket from just 35 deliveries as the Blitz looked to mount a sizable total on a ground that has seen 200 runs being scored three times in the last two matches. But then Fortuin struck again.
The left-arm spinner, who opened the bowling along with Markram (2-0-23-0) had Phehlukwayo stumped by Mosehle and then the wheels came off the bus. Fortuin (4-0-15-4) then struck twice in his last over, having Malan and Behardien (4) caught by Van Jaarsveld in the covers to leave the visitors on 92 for four.
The Blitz lost nine wickets for 58 runs as Fortuin, and then Dane Paterson (4-0-23-3) tore the Blitz apart. Once Fortuin had done the damage up front, Paterson grabbed the wickets of the dangerous Ali (9), Ferisco Adams (12) and Siboto (3) while Wiese (4-0-24-1) accounted for Linde (9) who was brilliantly caught by Markram on the long-off boundary.
Tsepo Moreki (2-0-19-1) produced the ball of the match when he delivered a full ball which knocked into the base of Talat’s (5) stumps before Piedt (8) was run out off the last ball of the innings, coming back for a second run.
The loss still leaves the Blitz top of the log with 18 points from five matches, six ahead of the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, whom they face on Tuesday evening in Port Elizabeth, and who have a game in hand. The Rocks, despite the win, are second from bottom with four points but more importantly, have found some self belief with the inclusion of their stars of Du Plessis, Markram and Tabraiz Shamsi.
The Rocks have moved up one place on nett run rate with the Tshwane Spartans being relegated to the foot of the table. The Rocks’ next game is on Wednesday when they travel to Durban to face the Durban Heat, whom they are level with on points and games and only separated by run rate on the MSLT20 log.