Andrew Birch defended 13 runs in the final over to hand the Tshwane Spartans a slender one-run victory over the Paarl Rocks in the Mzansi Super League T20 encounter at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday.
Rory Kleinveldt (4-0-44-0) had conceded 17 runs in the penultimate over to leave the home side requiring 13 runs off the final six balls to clinch their opening encounter after the Spartans had amassed 203 for five in their 20 overs.
Birch had conceded four runs off his first two balls and then Dean Elgar pulled off the stop of the match as he leaped into the air at long-on to attempt a catch off Patrick Kruger (19 not out) but the he dropped the catch while falling over the rope but kept the ball in play, meaning the players could only cross for two runs.
Birch conceded just another five runs off the final three balls as the Spartans kept the Rocks to 202 for six to win their first MSLT20 game of the tournament after their opening defeat to the Cape Town Blitz on Friday evening.
Cameron Delport scored his 19th T20 half century, reaching the milestone off just 30 balls. Delport and Michael Klinger had given the Rocks a steady start by adding 28 runs off 22 balls for the first wicket before Birch (4-0-42-1) had Klinger caught for 14 from 11 balls.
Henry Davids came to the crease and looked in the mood, striking two fours before smashing Robbie Frylinck (4-0-39-1) straight to AB de Villiers at mid-off for 12. The two wickets did not disturb Delport’s scoring prowess as he and Vaughn van Jaarsveld smashed their way to a 57-run stand for the fourth wicket off only 37 balls.
Van Jaarsveld (22) was given a life on 16 by Birch but the dropped catch did not cost too much as Van Jaarsveld tried to smash Jeevan Mendis (4-0-35-2) out the ground, only to top-edge the ball with wicketkeeper Gihahn Cloete taking the catch.
Lutho Sipamla (4-0-37-1) had been dispatched for 31 runs in his first three overs but then then returned to take one of the biggest wickets of his young career when he clean-bowled Delport with a beautiful Yorker. Delport had struck four boundaries and five sixes before walking off for 73 from 43 balls.
Dwayne Bravo (14) struck one four and a six before becoming Mendis’ second victim but Kruger and Mangaliso Mosehle (20 not out) were just not able to get their side over the line in that final over.
Earlier, the Spartans had posted the second highest T20 total at Boland Park after Davids had won the toss and invited them to bat first. Cloete posted his maiden T20 half century and enjoyed a 101-run opening stand with man of the match Theunis de Bruyn (66) from just 63 balls to lay the platform for the total.
De Bruyn, coming into the side at the expense of Shaun von Berg, smashed nine fours and two sixes in his 38-ball innings while Cloete faced 49 balls for his 80, which included 11 fours and a six. Cloete and De Villiers added 77 runs for the second wicket off only 40 balls before De Villiers was dismissed by Bravo (4-0-31-1).
Dane Paterson (4-0-45-2) returned for his last over and claimed two wickets in two balls to halt the massacre as he had Elgar caught in the deep by Bjorn Fortuin for nine and then had Cloete edging behind to Mosehle the next ball.
Rilee Rossouw (0) was dismissed first ball by Bravo while Tony de Zorzi (four not out) and Kleinveldt (four not out) were unable to boost the total any further in the back-end.
The Rocks host the Jozi Stars next here in Paarl on Tuesday 20 November while the Spartans travel to Durban to take on the Durban Heat on Wednesday 21 November.