Paarl Rocks 158 for 1 (Du Plessis 76*, Markram 48) beat Durban Heat 154 for 6 (Zondo 38*, Shamsi 2-20) by nine wickets
Left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi's twin strikes and his captain Faf du Plessis' well-modulated 76 not out off 48 balls fashioned a crucial win for Paarl Rocks and kept Durban Heat at the bottom of the points table. The game boiled down to the final over, but du Plessis' clever manipulation of the field - his innings included eight hard-run twos - ensured Paarl were always in control of their chase of 155 on a two-paced pitch.
The nine-wicket win meant Rocks remained in contention for the playoffs, while Heat were pushed to the brink after their fifth loss in six matches.
Such a heavy defeat for Heat did not seem likely when they zoomed to 56 for 0 in the Powerplay. While the dropped Hashim Amla was carrying drinks after managing just 55 runs in five innings, his replacement Sarel Erwee teed off with four successive boundaries off left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin in the fifth over. Morne van Wyk too kept the scorecard ticking before seamer Grant Thomson had Erwee chopping an inducker onto his stumps for 32 off 22 balls.
Shamsi then struck in the 10th over to pin van Wyk lbw with his stock ball that broke back in. The next five overs yielded only 23 runs for the loss of two further wickets. Shamsi was central to the squeeze, exploiting the early-morning moisture with his variations. He ended with 2 for 20 in his four overs on a day when no other bowler took more than one wicket.
Khaya Zondo and Vernon Philander then added 49 in 4.3 overs to haul Heat from 105 for 5 to 154 for 6.
Rocks had an early scare in their chase when opener Henry Davids retired hurt on 2 because of an adductor muscle strain, sustained while running a single. Ironically, the running between the wickets turned out to be the hallmark of the chase. There were as many as 17 doubles, including four on the trot in the 18th over.
In the Powerplay, du Plessis and Aiden Markram matched each other shot for shot to take full toll of anything loose. Zimbabwe legspinner Brandon Mavuta then cut short the opening stand at 76 when he drew Markram out of the crease and had him stumped for 48 off 39 balls. Du Plessis, though, displayed greater confidence against Mavuta, taking 16 runs off 10 balls from him. He raised his fifty off 36 balls and coaxed Vaughn van Jaarsveld to run hard between the wickets too.
They sealed victory with three consecutive fours, van Jaarsveld hitting the winning runs with a violent hoick over mid-on.
Durban Heat, who are still mathematically in contention for the playoffs, will hope that Rashid Khan's arrival - he missed the start of the tournament because of his stint in the T10 league - gives their campaign a leg-up.