Cape Town Blitz 148 for 4 (De Kock 93, Bravo 2-18) beat Paarl Rocks 144 for 9 (Du Plessis 61, Steyn 2-22, Burger2-26, Siboto 2-27) by six wickets
A blistering 93 from Quinton de Kock helped Cape Town Blitz romp to a six-wicket win over Paarl Rocks at a festive Newlands on Friday night, the result all but knocking Rocks out of the running for a play-off spot and going some way towards securing a home final for Blitz, who opened up a six-point lead over the second placed Jozi Stars.
As two teams with home bases 60 kilometres apart in the same province, Cape Town Blitz and Paarl Rocks have a shared fan base and both picked up players from the Cape Cobras franchise stable. Faf du Plessis, the Rocks captain, lives in Cape Town and as Ashwell Prince, the Blitz coach, put it at the start of the Mzansi Super League, the relationship between the two teams is "more of a brotherhood than a rivalry". But brothers can be especially competitive, and after Rocks defeated a travel-weary Blitz at Boland Park in the early stages of the league, Blitz had a point to prove this time around.
De Kock let his bat do the talking in a mammoth 105-run opening stand with Janneman Malan. The pair have formed a potent combination at the top of the order for Blitz in this tournament, setting up away wins over Jozi Stars and Tshwane Spartans with opening stands of 99 and 83, respectively. They were even more devastating under Friday night's lights, rocketing to a century opening stand at 10 an over.
As had been the case against Stars and Spartans, de Kock led the charge. Left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin has been key to Rocks' early control with the ball in this tournament, having opened the bowling in every game, but this time around de Kock lined him up to take 12 from the first over of the Blitz chase.
Rocks' seamers could do little to stem the tide, doing themselves no favours by repeatedly straying onto the Blitz openers' pads or feeding them width outside off. Dane Paterson leaked 17 from his second over, with all three boundaries in the over coming through the leg side, de Kock then plundering four fours in a row as David Wiese gave him room to free his arms through the off side, bringing up a 31-ball half century.
The pair took 65 from the Powerplay, breaking the back of the chase, and a 10-wicket defeat loomed when de Kock brought up the team 100 with a cut over point off Tabraiz Shamsi to start the 11th over.
Shamsi broke through to remove Malan in the same over - the right-hander having made just 26 in the opening stand while giving the bulk of the strike to his partner - but de Kock motored into the 90s with his third six in the 13th over. A second MSL hundred was his for the taking, but with the temptation of a bonus point for a win inside 16 overs, he kept playing his shots and holed out to du Plessis at long on off Dwayne Bravo.
Bravo got rid of Dawid Malan with his very next delivery, trapping him lbw, but after the early assault Blitz only needed 18 off the remaining 39 deliveries and the pressure was off. With a good Friday night crowd in and a raucous brass band cheerleading from the terraces, Blitz captain Farhaan Behardien spanked a six and a four to take his team to the brink before Andile Phehlukwayo secured a bonus point victory in the Cape derby with a rifled four through extra cover with five and a half overs to spare.
The defeat left Rocks with virtually no hope of making the play-offs, and meant a captain's effort from du Plessis went in vain. He was into the action halfway through the third over of Rocks' innings when Aiden Markram toe-ended a flick at Ferisco Adams, and soon picked up the momentum created by Cameron Delport's combative early hitting. Phehlukwayo was carted for two sixes and a four in his first over to elevate the score to 62 for 2 at the end of the Powerplay, and du Plessis brought up his fifty in the 13th over.
A platform had been set, but from 115 for 3 in the 14th over Rocks lost their way badly to lose their next six wickets for the addition of just 29 runs. The wickets were shared around by the Blitz seamers, with Malusi Siboto, Nandre Burger and Dale Steyn picking up two each, Steyn bowling with particular venom. But the most eye-catching performance of the night was undoubtedly de Kock's, and deservedly picked up the Player of the Match award, and R15,000, for his innings.