Janneman Malan and Dale Steyn, along with safe hands from Sisanda Magala, combined to help the Cape Town Blitz down the Jozi Stars by 15 runs in the opening match of the Mzansi Super League 2.0 at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday evening.
Man of the match Malan top-scored with an unbeaten 99 for the Blitz as the visitors posted 213 for three after Temba Bavuma had won the toss and asked the Blitz to bat first. In reply, Steyn claimed 3-25 in four overs, including the vital wickets of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen as the Stars replied with 198 for five.
Magala’s efforts were almost as vital as Steyn with the bowler claiming two sky-high catches off Steyn to see the back of first Van der Dussen (31) and then Hendricks with the pair looking to take their side home with a calm and measured stand of 53 off 40 balls for the third wicket.
With the Stars cruising on 161 for two in the 16th over, captain Quinton de Kock gambled and brought his veteran strike-bowler back into the attack. The gamble paid off as Van der Dussen played across the line, launching the ball high into the Johannesburg night-sky with Magala steadying himself under the high ball and taking a very good catch.
In Steyn’s next and last over, Hendricks, who had faced 53 balls, striking 11 boundaries and a six, launched Steyn high into the darkness and again it was the steady Magala who took responsibility and claimed the catch, which effectively ended the contest.
But it was Steyn who gave the Blitz the start they wanted when he had Chris Gayle (17) caught at short third man by Vernon Philander off a slower delivery which the big-hitting West Indian tried to cut. The early departure of Gayle brought Bavuma to the crease, elevating himself above Van der Dussen and the Jo’burg faithful had their hearts in their mouths with just his second ball faced.
Bavuma flicked Steyn over Malan at mid-wicket, who turned and chase the ball, putting in a full-length dive but spilled the ball as he hit the ground. Bavuma, who had not scored yet, made the miss count as the Stars captain went on to strike two boundaries and three wonderful sixes from 15 balls while sharing in an excellent second-wicket stand of 76 with Hendricks off only 34 balls which setup an exciting chase.
But once Steyn had removed both Van der Dussen and Hendricks, the writing was on the wall as Magala (4-0-36-1) returned to remove Ryan Rickelton (1), caught in the deep by Malan before Anrich Nortje (3-0-41-0) finished off the match, conceding just eight runs after having conceded 33 in his first two overs.
Earlier, Malan (99 not out) and De Kock (35) set the tone for the Blitz’s highest MSL total of 213 with an opening stand of 72 from just 42 balls with De Kock striking four boundaries and two maximums. The Blitz turned the tables on the Stars after having lost the final at PPC Newlands in Cape Town last year as Englishmen Moeen Ali (25) and Liam Livingston (21) played some quick-fire cameos to help maintain the pace.
Simon Harmer (3-0-36-1) finally made the breakthrough, having De Kock caught in the deep but Ali, in his short stint with the Blitz, cracked three fours and a six from 17 balls before Livingston swatted three maximums from 10 balls to give the Blitz the foundation for their mammoth total.
But it was all down to Malan who held the innings together, striking 11 fours and four sixes from just 59 deliveries as he and George Linde (24 not out) rounded off the innings with an unbeaten stand of 60 from 37 balls for the fourth wicket. Malan though would have been a little disappointed in not reaching his third T20 century when he failed to connect with the final ball of the innings.
The only Stars bowler to come out of the contest with his head held high was Australian Dan Christian, a late replacement for Aaron Phangiso, who claimed 1-28 in four overs while the likes of Kagiso Rabada (4-0-38-0) and last season’s leading wicket taker Duanne Olivier (2-0-32-0) struggled on a flat pitch.
The Cape Town Blitz travel back to the Cape to face off against their neighbours the Paarl Rocks in Paarl on Sunday while the Stars will lick their wounds when they head to Port Elizabeth to take on the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.
*as published on SuperSport.com