Ryan Rickelton leads the way as Jozi Stars secure big first win
Jozi Stars 209 for 2 (Rickelton 91, van der Dussen 78) beat Paarl Rocks 149 (Davids 60, Harmer 3-22, Leie 3-33) by 60 runs
Jozi Stars lost the services of Chris Gayle for this game, the West Indian heading off for a spell in the T10 League in Sharjah after the Mzansi Super League's opening weekend, but they showed they had more than enough firepower without him as they soared to the highest total of the league so far and then secured their first win with a 60-run victory over Paarl Rocks on a windy evening at Boland Park.
Ryan Rickelton and Rassie van der Dussen set the platform for Jozi Stars' 209 for 2 with a 155-run opening stand, the biggest partnership for any wicket so far in the competition. Rickelton fell short of what would have been a maiden T20 hundred, but Dan Christian rocketed Stars beyond 200 with an 11-ball 32, and the spinners then derailed Rocks' chase. Simon Harmer and Eddie Leie tore through the top order to share six cheap wickets, and when Beuran Hendricks clean bowled Dane Paterson in the 19th over, the margin of victory also secured the visitors a bonus point.
Stars had needed some brilliance with the ball after Henry Davids led Rocks' second innings charge with an early assault. Most eye-catching in Davids' innings was his driving, inside-out and over or through the covers, and he dominated a 56-run second wicket stand with Vaughn van Jaarsveld to put Rocks ahead of Stars' comparative position after the Powerplay, with the home side reaching 62 for 1 to the visitors' 44 for 0.
He fell in the midst of a collapse against Stars' spinners, however, Harmer weathering a thumb bloodied in the field to nip out two batsmen in his first two overs. Legspinner Leie also struck as soon as he was introduced, making the vital strike when Davids was well caught by Harmer at cover, who also lifted the nail on his right thumb in the process. When Leie had Patrick Kruger caught behind for 10, Rocks had slipped from 78 for 1 in the eighth over to 93 for 5 in the 11th, and their chase never recovered.
Leie had his third when Mangaliso Mosehle top edged a sweep in the 15th over, and Harmer trapped Eathan Bosch lbw in his last over to finish with a miserly 3 for 22. With Hendricks and Olivier quickly dealing with the tail to finish with two apiece, Stars bowled out Rocks with an over to spare.
Were he here, Gayle might have made sure to settle in before he launched into an attack, and without him Rickelton and van der Dussen, pushed up to open, adopted a similar tactic. They took just a single off left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin's opening over, with van der Dussen particularly circumspect, and it wasn't until his first six off Paterson in the eighth over that his strike rate reached a run a ball. But thereafter, he quickly made up for it.
At the other end, Rickelton rode his luck to bring up a 33-ball fifty in the ninth over, and the innings quickly picked up momentum. Rocks did themselves no favours with several lapses in the field, gifting van der Dussen a second life and also boosting the total with overthrows. The Jozi Stars openers had set a solid platform at 133 for 0 after 15 overs, and they proceeded to pillage a whopping 76 runs off the last five.
Van der Dussen's second six off Paterson took him to a 36-ball fifty in the 16th over, and though Rickelton fell to an awkward attempted ramp shortly afterwards, Christian wasted no time getting going. Rocks helpfully fed him outside off stump, and he responded with two sixes between cover point and wide third man, and a third over square leg to end the innings.
Paarl Rocks launched their own chase with similar gusto, but against the sustained pressure of Harmer and Leie, they quickly crumbled to their second successive defeat.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town