Bjorn Fortuin’s four-wicket haul and Faf du Plessis’ half-century helped Paarl Rocks register their first win of the Mzansi Super League. Their victory also halted Cape Town Blitz’s unbeaten streak of four matches, though Blitz still hold the pole position with 18 points.
Batting first, Blitz made a breezy start courtesy Quinton de Kock’s 16-ball 31. But left-arm spinner Fortuin eked out the top four batsmen in quick succession and Blitz could never recover after that. Despite some sloppy ground fielding, they managed just 57 from the last ten overs and were bowled out for 140.
Du Plessis then steered the Rocks through their chase with a 39-ball 54. He received good support from Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Mangaliso Mosehle as the Rocks notched up the winning runs in 18.5 overs, with five wickets in hand.
However, it was not a straightforward victory. Michael Klinger had suffered a back injury during Blitz’s innings and wasn’t available to bat. Then Dale Steyn rattled the Rocks by removing Henry Davids and Aiden Markram in space of three balls, the short ball doing the trick on both occasions. Davids tried to slash him over point but ended up hitting it towards third man where George Linde completed a tumbling catch. Markram was hurried on to the pull, with Hussain Talat accepting a dolly at midwicket.
Du Plessis and van Jaarsveld steadied the innings and took the side past 50 in the eighth over. They added 67 for the third wicket before van Jaarsveld reverse-swept Linde straight to Asif Ali at short third man.
David Wiese started with a boundary but with 47 needed from 48, he fell to Dane Piedt for a run-a-ball 11. Du Plessis, however, held firm at the other end, finding boundaries at regular intervals to keep required-rate under control. He along with Mosehle played percentage cricket, dealing in singles and doubles to bring the equation down to 16 runs from 18 balls.
Du Plessis brought up his half-century off 37 balls in the 18th over of the innings before being caught at deep square leg off a high full-toss from Malusi Siboto. Murray Brown, the field umpire, sought the third umpire Clifford Isaacs’s help to check for the no-ball but some miscommunication led to Murray signalling no-ball. Isaacs, in the end, had to come on to the field to tell him he hadn’t deemed it a no-ball.
Du Plessis had to walk off, but Mosehle and Fortuin hit a boundary each to wrap up the game without further hiccups.
Earlier, in a surprise move, the Rocks opened their bowling with Markram. De Kock began where he had left off last night and smashed the part-time offspinner for two fours and a six in the bowler’s second over. However, in the next over – the fourth of the innings – de Kock’s march was cut short by Fortuin. The wicketkeeper-batsman slog swept Fortuin for a six, but while trying to repeat the shot two balls later ended up top-edging to du Plessis at midwicket.
Andile Phehlukwayo, who was sent in at No. 3, maintained the scoring rate with a couple of sixes over long-on, before Fortuin struck again to dismiss him for a 16-ball 24.
In his next over, Fortuin removed Janneman Malan and Farhaan Behardien to peg Blitz further back. Malan, who had scored 57 and 66 in his last two innings, struggled to get his timing right and ended with a stuttering 29 off 31, while Behardien chipped a length ball to van Jaarsveld at extra-cover as Blitz slipped from 82 for 1 to 92 for 4.
Dane Paterson and Wiese varied their pace intelligently to make things difficult for middle and lower order. Paterson picked up 3 for 24 as the Blitz batsmen tried to get some quick runs. Blitz managed to put up a challenging total, but as it panned out, that didn’t prove enough.
Paarl Rocks 144 for 5 (du Plessis 54, van Jaarsveld 32, Steyn 2-21) beat Cape Town Blitz 140 (de Kock 31, Fortuin 4-15, Paterson 3-23) by five wickets