The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants all but secured their place in the play-off’s of the 2019 Mzansi Super League 2.0 with a crushing victory over a hapless Cape Town Blitz at PPC Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
The margin of victory might only have been 11 runs but considering that the home side were cruising on 104 for one after nine overs and needing just 70 runs for victory from 66 balls. The hosts were even staring at a possible bonus-point, needing to score the 70 runs from 42 balls – possible in T20 cricket. The margin would have been far bigger had Vernon Philander (16 not out) and Aya Gqamane (8 not out) not clubbed 14 runs off the final over from Beuran Hendricks (4-0-48-1).
Quinton de Kock had won the toss and sent the Giants in to bat first with Australian Ben Dunk (75) and Matthew Breetzke (64) setting the highest partnership of the MSL, scoring 136 off only 88 balls for the first wicket as the Giants totalled 173 for six. But the hosts chase lost its way dramatically when they lost seven wickets for 39 runs after De Kock (40) and Janneman Malan (60) had given the Blitz the opening boost they needed.
Malan, who struck one four and six maximums from 41 deliveries, shared in the opening stand of 85 from 42 balls with De Kock, who looked sublime in his 19-ball innings which included seven boundaries and a six. But the introduction of Imran Tahir (4-0-22-2) changed the nature of the innings when he had De Kock caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary by Heino Kuhn.
David Bedingham (9) lasted just 11 balls before offering Kuhn another catch in the deep, this time off captain Jon-Jon Smuts (2-0-3-1). But once Tahir bowled Malan, who came charging down the track, the Blitz effort fell apart. Englishman Liam Livingstone (10) was well-caught by Hendricks off Akhona Mnyaka (2-0-16-1) while George Linde (2), Mohammad Nawaz (1), Wahab Riaz (5) and Sisanda Magala (3) all capitulated under the pressure.
The tone of the match was setup by the opening strand of the Giants with man of the match Dunk scoring his second-consecutive MSL fifty. Dunk and Breetzke started slowly, scoring just 41 runs in the first six overs but then took control of the innings with Dunk smashing six boundaries and four maximums from 56 balls. Breetzke was more aggressive, cracking seven fours and two sixes from 40 balls as the pair set a platform for a big total.
However, Gqamane (2-0-32-1) made the breakthrough, having Breetzke playing across the line and being caught by the bowler off a leading edge. The Giants then imploded themselves, losing six wickets for 35 runs, which all came in the final four overs as Magala (4-0-26-2) and Riaz (4-0-19-3) brought the Blitz right back into the game.
Magala dismissed Dunk, well caught by Riaz in the deep before Riaz claimed the wickets of Marco Marais (2) and Ryan ten Doeschate (0) in the space of three deliveries.
The victory keeps the Giants top of the log with 27 points, four ahead of the Paarl Rocks, whom they face off against on Sunday at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl, a match that is likely to decide who will host the final on 16 December 2019.
The Blitz, who travel to Centurion to take on the Tshwane Spartans, who are also chasing a place in the play-offs, are all but out of the competition as they languish second-from-bottom with 17 points, one behind the Durban Heat and four behind the Spartans, although the Heat have two games remaining, against the winless Jozi Stars.