MARCO MARAIS MAGIC MOVES GIANTS TO THE TOP
Brilliant late hitting by Marco Marais and Chris Morris provided a thrilling Mzansi Super League (MSL) finish as the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants came from behind to snatch a fine five-wicket win over the Cape Town Blitz in their top-of-the-table clash in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
Chasing a hefty 187 for victory, the hosts slipped to three for two, before captain Jon-Jon Smuts gave them belief with his excellent 73 (51 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes), before Marais clobbered 40 off 20 balls and Morris swatted 19 off nine balls to complete the job with four deliveries to spare.
It meant the Giants leapfrogged the Blitz to the top of the competition standings with 15 points from four games, two more than their Cape rivals, who have played a game more.
The victory was made all the sweeter considering how the home side were chasing the game for most of it.
They lost the toss and were asked to bowl first, with the opposition top-order going crazy early on.
Quinton de Kock lambasted three sixes and four fours in his 39 off 18 balls, while fellow opener Janneman Malan struck 31 off 22 balls as the Blitz raced to 72 for none in the seventh.
The carnage continued through Marques Ackerman (26), Englishman Liam Livingstone (39) and Pakistan’s Asif Ali (22) – the visitors looking set for a 200-plus total at 149 for three in the 15th.
But they were then hauled back in the final five overs as Onke Nyaku ended with two for 17.
There were also doubles for Imran Tahir (2/26), Chris Morris (2/33) and the expensive Junior Dala, who conceded a whopping 52 in his four overs but did manage two strikes.
The Giants failed to initially capitalise on that strong finish with the ball and found themselves in a huge hole inside the first nine balls as Matthew Breetzke (0) and England World Cup-winner Jason Roy (1) were sent packing by Anrich Nortje (1/41) and Dale Steyn (2/38) respectively.
But skipper Smuts and Australian Ben Dunk (28) managed to get the fire burning with a stand of 53 for the third wicket before another 44-run stand between the former and Heino Kuhn (15) followed.
However, when the latter fell in the 13th over there were still more than 80 needed as the Blitz looked primed to close in.
Marais, though, had other ideas as he provided the support his captain needed to cut loose, before himself opening up after the dismissal of Smuts to carry the Giants over the line.
The final partnership between Marais and Morris yielding 37 in just 18 balls as a big hit by the Standard Bank Proteas all-rounder was not held on the fence by George Linde with the ball going for six and the win.