Spin duo Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin spearheaded an excellent bowling performance by the Paarl Rocks that helped them draw level with the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at the top of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) table with a 31-win in their big showdown in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
The pair claimed two wickets each for a cost of 52 in eight overs and were well supported by pick-of-the-bowlers Hardus Viljoen (2/21), Ferisco Adams (2/27) and Isuru Udana (2/34) as the visitors successfully defended their 166 for seven by restricting the home side to 135.
There were also useful performances with the bat by James Vince (37 off 22 balls), captain Faf du Plessis (27 off 21 balls) and Adams (23 not out off 12 balls) to set up the Boland-based franchise for a key win.
It was one that took their tally for the MSL 2.0 to 19 points, the same number as the Giants, who were beaten for the first time in 2019.
The Rocks have now won three on the bounce, with the latest triumph an efficient and fully deserved one, although they will feel slightly aggrieved having not done it with a bonus point in the Eastern Cape.
Adrian Birrell’s team had lost the toss and were asked to bat first at St George’s Park with the consistent Henry Davids (23) and Cameron Delport (18) providing their side with a strong start. Both were involved in the first two partnerships that took their side up to 70 for one in the 10th over, before World Cup-winner Vince and Sibonelo Makhanya (18) picked up the baton.
Adams then cut loose late on, although Imran Tahir’s miserly two for 19 did play a vital role in limiting the target to just 167.
The reply began in the worst possible fashion for the Giants after another of England’s world champion batsmen, Jason Roy, fell for a first-ball duck.
However, Ben Dunk was the glue for his side with 45 off 38 balls that kept them in the chase for more than three-quarters of the way.
They were on 68 for three at halfway, before reaching 88 for three, with the game turning in one Shamsi over that took out Heino Kuhn (14) and Marco Marais (1).
In the end, apart from Matthew Breetzke’s 22 earlier in the innings, support did not come as the Giants fell apart following the departure of their top-scoring Australian.
He was unusually dismissed by stepping on his stumps, ending all hopes for the Eric Simons’ charges.