A sensational 118-run partnership between Rassie van der Dussen and Dan Christian booked the Jozi Stars a ticket to the Mzansi Super League play-offs with a comfortable 101-run bonus-point victory over the Tshwane Spartans at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Tuesday.

Both hit half-centuries – the Australian recording the fastest one of the competition from only 18 balls – as the hosts piled on a record score of 239 for three.

Nono Pongolo then produced the best bowling figures of the MSL T20 when he bagged six for 20, also his best career figures, as the Spartans were flattened for 138 in 17.2 overs.

The result means the Stars will now host the Qualifier in Johannesburg on Friday against one of the Paarl Rocks, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants or the Spartans who could all finish on 21 points. The former two meet at Eurolux Boland Park on Wednesday with the Spartans taking on the Durban Heat in the late match on the same day.

In the event of the three all finishing on 21 points, then Spartans will qualify as they won both their matches against the Rocks and both these sides have a greater number of wins than the Giants. The latter can qualify with a straight victory over the Rocks while the Rocks will get through if they win with a bonus point or score a straight win provided the Spartans lose. The Spartans will need to win with a bonus point to reach 21 log points.

League-phase champions Cape Town Blitz await the victors of the play-off for the final at PPC Newlands on Sunday.

On current form, Jozi look like they will take some stopping after they bulldozed their way past the meek Spartans at the Bullring.

Ryan Rickelton (45), Reeza Hendricks (20) and Kagiso Rabada (21), used as a pinch-hitter, laid the platform for their side by getting them to 121 for three in the 13th over.

It was then the Van der Dussen and Christian show, with the pair launching into the Tshwane bowlers.

The former fell four shy of a century after blazing 96 off 44 balls (6 fours, 6 sixes), with the latter dealing only in sixes as he massacred six on his way to 52 off 19 balls.

It allowed Jozi to post the highest total of the competition to date and left their cross-Jukskei rivals needing something special to secure the improbable.

And unlikely it was as Pongolo produced the figures of his life to knock the stuffing out of the Spartans.

Only Gihahn Cloete managed to cross 50 – he hit exactly that number off 40 balls (7 fours) – while there was little else in terms of support.

Captain AB de Villiers fell to Kagiso Rabada via a superb catch by Simon Harmer, deflating any hope his side may have had.

Pongolo kept chipping away at the other end to secure the Stars the biggest win of the competition.

Faf du Plessis struck his fourth half-century of the Mzansi Super League season to keep alive the Paarl Rocks’ hopes of reaching the playoffs with a key six-wicket victory over the Jozi Stars at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

There was also a perfectly weighted unbeaten 71 (55 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) from Man of the Match Grant Thomson that anchored the innings of the visitors as they chased down a 171-victory target with three deliveries to spare in Johannesburg.

Kerwin Mungroo was their unlikely hero with the ball as the lanky fast bowler grabbed a rare chance in the competition by bowling out of his skin to claim three for 29, which included the key wickets of Chris Gayle, Reeza Hendricks and Pite van Biljon.

Victory in the end for the Paarl side enabled them to climb fourth on the table, with 17 points from nine games, four behind the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, who they will now host in a virtual shootout on Wednesday.

The Tshwane Spartans (16 points) can still catch both, but they will need to also win their remaining two games to change the order on the standings.

Defeat for the second-placed Stars, meanwhile, assured the Cape Town Blitz an automatic ticket to a home final next Sunday, with the Stars staying second on 24 points and still having some work to do in their final match against the Spartans on Tuesday.

The Jozi stars, though, will no doubt be disappointed that they did not seal their playoff berth in front of their home fans, after posting a solid 170 for six after they were put into bat first.

Their innings was built around Rassie van der Dussen’s enterprising 83 (55 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes). This after Mungroo pegged them back at the start by dismissing Hendricks (5) and West Indian superstar Gayle (9) inside the opening 3.2 overs.

A 73-run stand between Van der Dussen and captain Dane Vilas (23) dragged the home side back into a good position, before more quick wickets threatened to derail their innings.

But support for their main batsman came through Dwaine Pretorius (28) as they set a challenging total.

The Rocks’ innings followed a similar pattern with Duanne Olivier (3/30) claiming the early wickets of Cameron Delport (15) Aiden Markram (3), leaving them on 19 for two.

However, a key 120-run stand between Du Plessis, who made 61 off 34 balls (7 fours, 2 sixes), took them too far ahead for the Stars to bring them back, even after the skipper fell, 17 not out by Dwayne Bravo helping to carry them over the line.

Fifties from Morne van Wyk and Khaya Zondo helped Durban Heat to a consolatory six-wicket win over Cape Town Blitz at a sunny Newlands on Sunday afternoon.

Durban Heat are already out of the running for a playoff position at the business end of the Mzansi Super League, and their opposition today were already assured of an automatic ticket to a home final next Sunday thanks to Jozi Stars’ loss earlier in the day, but a 79-run stand between van Wyk and Zondo allowed Heat to leave Cape Town with a win and their pride intact.

Chasing a challenging 161 for 6, Heat lost opener Sarel Erwee in the first over and an off-colour Hashim Amla just after the Powerplay, but van Wyk and Zondo soon brought their chase back on track. Van Wyk lead the way early on, bringing up a 42-ball fifty in the 14th over, but Zondo was also quickly into his stride.

Zondo whipped Malusi Siboto over cow corner for his first six in the 13th over and then flat-batted a full toss from medium pacer Ferisco Adams over extra cover to take the asking rate under 10. Van Wyk’s dismissal, pulling Dale Steyn into the hands of Sibonelo Makhanya at deep square leg to fall for 56 in the 16th over, tipped the balance once more, but Zondo responded in style.

Adams was dispatched for back-to-back sixes at the start of the 16th over – the first of which brought up Zondo’s 35-ball fifty, and David Miller then biffed Nandre Burger over wide long on to take the equation down to just five from the final over. Zondo top-edged the first ball of that last over, bowled by Siboto, to third man for four to level the scores, and though he fell straight afterwards aiming to end the game with a flourish, Miller tapped the winning single wide of mid-off to guide Heat home.

The total Heat were chasing was largely due to another adventurous innings from Quinton de Kock, who maintained his hot streak with the bat with an unbeaten 86 from 55 deliveries to power the Blitz innings. De Kock was not off to his usual flier – a probing first spell from Rashid Khan inside the Powerplay made sure of that – but he picked up momentum through the innings.

De Kock lost his opening partner Janneman Malan in the first over of the innings, bowled by Khan for his first duck in an otherwise remarkably consistent performance through this tournament, and with Dawid Malan also quickly undone by Kyle Abbott, Blitz ended the Powerplay at a modest 28 for 2.

Halfway through the innings, de Kock’s strike rate was well under a run a ball, but he found his groove against Tladi Bokako, taking 17 off his third over, and a brace of fours off Keshav Maharaj brought up his 34-ball fifty in the 13th over.

From that point onwards, de Kock shifted through the gears despite a committed effort with the ball from Heat, attacking the short boundary against Rashid with some audacious hitting. Reverse sweeps from consecutive deliveries in the 19th over, bowled by Rashid, both brought sixes and alongside Mohammad Nawaz he rattled through a 51-run, fifth-wicket stand from just 25 deliveries. Thanks to van Wyk and Zondo’s contributions, however, Heat did at least leave Cape Town with a win.

Zubayr Hamza, the 23-year-old World Sports Betting Cape Cobras batsman, has been named as a potential new cap in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the three-match Test series against Pakistan which starts at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on December 26.

The other matches will be played at PPC Newlands from January 3 and at the Bidvest Wanderers from January 11.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced a 13-man squad for the series today that also features the return of VKB Knights fast bowler Duanne Olivier in place of the injured Lungi Ngidi. Olivier was part of the squad for the previous home Test series against Australia and has represented the Proteas in five Test matches.

“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into South Africa A tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions,” commented CSA National Selection Panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi.

“Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69.

“His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,” explained Mr Zondi.

“As unfortunate as Lungi’s injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources. Duanne has impressed on his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.

“Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date.

“We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas,” concluded Mr Zondi.

If Hamza gains selection in the final XI he will become the 100th player to represent the Proteas in the five-day format.

A second successive century by Reeza Hendricks followed by a clinical bowling display from the Jozi Stars’ bowlers fired them to a record 81-run win over the high-flying Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in their Mzansi Super League encounter in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.

The opener, who struck 104 not out on Friday, went four runs better with a career-best unbeaten 108 off 62 balls (10 fours, 5 sixes) out of a total of 173 for three for the visitors at St George’s Park.

Dwaine Pretorius then led the way with a brilliant three for 17, with Kagiso Rabada quick and tight in his two for eight as the hosts were shot out for 92 in 16.4 overs – the lowest score in the competition thus far and losing by the biggest margin in terms of runs.

It sealed an impressive result for the Johannesburg side, who subsequently picked up a bonus point for their efforts and returned to third place on the log standings, now just four points behind the Giants with a game in hand.

The result was set up by the outstanding Hendricks, who recorded his third Twenty20 century in the process.

He led the way for his side and had little cameos from the other end supporting him after the Stars won the toss and opted to bat first against a home side that had lost just once previously. Ryan Rickelton (21) helped put on 61 for the first wicket, before Rassie van der Dussen (19) added 54 alongside Hendricks for the second wicket.

Dane Vilas (10) supported the centurion until 149, with the strong finish propelling the target to 174.

Aaron Phangiso was the pick of the bowlers with one for 22, with the bowler also topping a woeful batting chart for his side with 17.

The hosts were poor with the bat as Rabada dominated with the ball early. After Beuran Hendricks (2/18) took out Marco Marais (2), the Standard Bank Proteas fast bowler cleaned up Jon-Jon Smuts (10) – the Giants limping to the lowest powerplay score of the competition at 19 for two.

Things only worsened from there as Heino Kuhn (12) and Christiaan Jonker (0) were dismissed from successive balls by Pretorius.

Eddie Leie (2/22) then left the home side in further strife as they fell to 72 for nine, with Phangiso’s late hitting preventing an even bigger loss.

All roads lead to St George’s Park when the Nelson Mandela Giants meet the Cape Town Blitz in the top-of-table Mzansi Super League clash on Tuesday evening.

The two coastal cities have been the trend-setters in this inaugural competition. After racing to four consecutive victories, the Blitz steam train hit a speed bump on Sunday afternoon when Standard Bank Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and his Paarl Rocks team stopped their neighbours in their tracks in the maiden Western Cape derby.

The Giants, meanwhile, enjoyed a successful weekend by completing the double over the Durban Heat on Friday evening before coming out on the right side of a weather-interrupted contest with the Tshwane Spartans on Sunday.

The Blitz currently top the log with 18 points from five matches, while the Giants are just below on 12 – although the Port Elizabeth side have played one game less.

“We never adapted from the Highveld conditions to the slow and low conditions in 12 hours. We never had enough runs on the board. The average score is about 146 and we got 140, so we always thought we were in the game. They had a senior batsman in Faf du Plessis batting through, who kept it all together. We knew they were a batter light when (Michael) Klinger pulled out, but Faf held the innings together nicely,” Blitz captain Farhaan Behardien said before looking at the positives ahead of the Giants clash.

“I reckon its brilliant for the team (the first defeat). It is always nice to taste a little bit of a loss before playoffs and finals. Sometimes when you are winning all the time, you tend to gloss over things. To taste defeat, in my opinion, is a good thing. We will lick our wounds and put it [the result] to bed as quickly as we can. Fortunately, we have won four from five and at the halfway mark, we are happy with our performance thus far,” the Standard Bank Proteas batsman added.

The Giants, meanwhile, are set to test the Blitz batsmen once more with slow and turning conditions at St George’s Park, especially with the two left-arm spinners, Aaron Phangiso and Jon-Jon Smuts, in good form.

“In any competition like this, you need to understand your home ground. You need to understand and you need to play well. I mean we played probably pretty close to the perfect game against the Durban Heat last week so one would want to do that again,” coach Eric Simons said.

“We are up against the Cape Town Blitz who are obviously a very good side. I think we’ve got a good side for any conditions and obviously knowing we were going to play five games in Port Elizabeth we sat with that thought in the draft. If we can set the game up with our bowling. If we can bowl with the same discipline on Tuesday, then obviously we are going to be a tough side to beat.”

Kyle Abbott bowled the Durban Heat to their opening Mzansi Super League victory after the rain intervened at Kingsmead on Wednesday afternoon.

Abbott claimed 4/27 to restrict the Tshwane Spartans 139/9, with the visitors only batting 19 overs due to weather disruptions. The Heat’s batsmen managed to get up to 129/6 after 16.3 overs before the heavens opened once more, forcing the players off for the final time.

That was enough to take the points with the Heat ahead of the Duckworth Lewis par-score of 120, thereby handing the home team victory by 10 runs.

It certainly was a day for the bowlers with only Tshwane Spartans opening batsman Gihahn Cloete striking the ball with any form of fluency. Cloete soared to the top of the Mzansi Super League run-scoring charts with 55 off 43 balls (7×4).

Unfortunately for the Spartans, Cloete did not have a partner to sustain the momentum. Only Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikander Raza managed 20 off 20 balls before Abbott cleaned up the Tshwane middle-order.

Even AB de Villiers failed for the first time in this tournament with the former Standard Bank Proteas captain being trapped LBW by Keshav Maharaj while attempting a reverse-sweep.

The Heat run-chase never quite raced out of the blocks with solid contributions from Hashim Amla (24), Morne van Wyk (22), Heinrich Klaasen (21) keeping the home team up with the required run-rate before a rapid 50-run partnership between Khaya Zondo (25 off 11 balls) and Albie Morkel (26 off 12 balls) for the fifth-wicket raised the tempo of the innings.

Lutho Sipamla tried valiantly for the Spartans with 3/22, but it was not enough to deny the Heat their first victory of the competition.

The Cape Town Blitz continued to set the pace in the Mzansi Super League after strong performances by Janneman Malan and Dale Steyn helped them make it three wins from three thanks to a 12-run Duckworth/Lewis triumph over the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Cape Town on Wednesday.

After winning their first two matches under the leadership of Dawid Malan, Farhaan Behardien replaced the departed Briton but slotted in seamlessly as the hosts held off a strong challenge from the visitors at PPC Newlands.

Janneman Malan top-scored for the Blitz with 57 off 39 balls (10 fours, 1 six), while Steyn was outstanding with the ball on his way to figures of two for 21 in four overs.

In a match affected by a brief floodlight failure, the log leaders won the toss and batted first, amassing 175 for six in their 20 overs. With Dawid Malan missing at the top of the order, returning Standard Bank Proteas star Quinton de Kock – one of five debuting in the new competition – joined Janneman Malan and helped put on 41 for the first wicket, before falling to another new face, Imran Tahir (1/18), for six.

Andile Phehlukwayo (28), promoted up the order, helped Janneman Malan add 49 for the second wicket before he fell to Chris Morris (2/32).

Asif Ali, who destroyed the Durban Heat a few days earlier, then chipped in with 22 off 11 balls, while Behardien contributed 17 as the home side set 176 for victory.

The Giants lost key openers Marco Marais (2) and Jon-Jon Smuts (8) early, both to the pace of Steyn, before Ben Duckett (23) and top-scorer Heino Kuhn (55 off 35 balls, 7 fours, 1 six) began to drag them back into the game.

Their partnership was disrupted by a brief floodlight delay just before their team could cross 50, prompting four overs to be lost and the target revised to 145. Needing to score at around 14 to the over, the pair shift gears, and after Duckett fell, Kuhn looked set to pick up the baton.

But he was unfortunately run out when Malusi Siboto deflected a Christiaan Jonker shot onto the stumps, which seemingly proved critical – prior to his dismissal the equation was reduced to 43 off 20 balls.

And with the pressure of the scoreboard building, the Giants folded to end on 132 for six for a first loss of the campaign.

Hussain Talat was the other double wicket bowler for the Blitz, with the debutant Pakistani claiming two for seven in his solo over.

 

 

Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi set the tone up front as the Standard Bank Proteas crushed Australia by six wickets in the opening ODI on their tour ‘down under’ at Perth on Sunday.

The Proteas won the toss on a typically lively pitch and went in with their full front-line pace attack. There was no recovery for Australia after Man of the Match Steyn and Ngidi reduced them to 8/3 inside 6 overs. They later slumped to 66/6 in 21 overs as Andile Phehlukwayo (3/33 in 6 overs) also played an important role.

The fielding was also out of the top draw with Quinton de Kock at his best behind the stumps, Faf du Plessis taking a stinger in the slips and David Miller producing a direct hit run out with only one stump to aim at.

It ended up as one of the shorter ODIs between the two countries with the game being finished in less than 70 overs as the Proteas chased down their target of 153 runs inside the 30th over.

It was also the Proteas sixth win in a row in bilateral series against Australia, following their 5-0 white ball whitewash in South Africa in 2016.

What will have been particularly pleasing for the Proteas was the manner in which they chased down the target with the two rookies, Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram, both making important contributions in support of De Kock against Australia’s full-strength pace attack. Both De Kock and Markram had strike rates in excess of 100 and for a long time ,the Proteas were on target for victory by either eight or nine wickets. By the time the second wicket fell the match was virtually over as a contest with only 31 runs needed and 28 overs still available to be bowled.

 

De Kock made 47 (40 balls, 7 fours), Hendricks 44 (74 balls, 4 fours) and Markram 36 (32 balls, 6 fours).

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