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Elgar delivers much-needed win for Spartans

Dean Elgar gave Somerset a flying start Getty Images

Tshwane Spartans 188 for 6 (Dean Elgar 79*, AB de Villiers 39, Simon Harmer 3-26) beat Jozi Stars 186 for 5 (Reeza Hendricks 55, Pite van Biljon 42, Jeevan Mendis 2-37) by four wickets

Tshwane Spartans have the leading six-hitter and the most effective bowler of the Mzansi Super League in their ranks, but before today they had lost three of their four matches. AB de Villiers added to his sixes tally, while Jeevan Mendis took his 11th wicket, but it was Dean Elgar who made the most telling contribution against Jozi Stars, carrying his bat for a career-best 79 not out from 52 deliveries to deliver a vital win with three balls to spare. Elgar cracked five fours and four sixes as Spartans chased down Stars' 186 for 5 to win the Gauteng derby by four wickets, completing a record T20 run chase at SuperSport Park.

Opening the batting, Elgar set the pace in Spartans' chase with three fours and two sixes inside the Powerplay. Elgar had to weather a bristling opening spell from Kagiso Rabada, while at the other end Simon Harmer struck repeatedly to dent Spartans' line-up. Harmer removed the pinch-hitting Corbin Bosch and Theunis de Bruyn with consecutive deliveries, but Elgar found the boundary whenever it was needed and alongside de Villiers, added 68 for the fourth wicket in quick time to push the innings forward.

As Elgar brought up a 30-ball fifty in the 11th over, de Villiers gave an all too brief exhibition of astonishing T20 strokeplay, flicking seamer Dwaine Pretorius over fine leg with a paddle sweep for six as he started to hit his straps. De Villiers then launched an assault in Eddie Leie's second over, reverse sweeping to third man and then sending the ball sailing twice over midwicket with a pair of powerful slog sweeps.

Pretorius soon wrought revenge, however, de Villiers slicing a full ball straight to Ryan Rickelton at long off to depart for 39. But vitally, Elgar remained, and he took Spartans closer with a 41-run stand with Tony de Zorzi, the 150 coming up in the 16th over. Spartans were left needing 41 from the last five overs, which was par for the course, but the quick dismissals of de Zorzi and Robbie Frylinck in consecutive overs set up a tight finish.

Still, Elgar batted on and as long as he remained, the advantage was always with Spartans. Sean Williams, batting as low as no. 8, tipped the balance with a top-edged pull for four off Rabada in the penultimate over, and then hit the winning runs by slicing a full toss from Beuran Hendricks to the third man boundary.

While Elgar had kept Spartans ticking over throughout their chase, Jozi's innings had been bookended by contrasting knocks from Reeza Hendricks and Pite van Biljon. Rickelton, who narrowly missed out on a hundred against Paarl Rocks a week ago, was very much the secondary partner in an opening stand of 54 as Hendricks repeatedly pierced the cover boundary with an exhibition of classical shots.

Hendricks' first boundary was gifted to him via overthrows, but he hit five more fours off the next 10 balls he faced with rather more authority. With Hendricks particularly fluent through the off side, Eldred Hawken leaked 10 runs from his first over, Bosch 15 from his second, and Stars took 53 from the Powerplay.

Once de Villiers turned to his spinners, however, the scoring rate immediately dipped. Mendis added to his wickets tally almost straight away when Rickelton gloved a sweep to be well caught by a diving Gihahn Cloete behind the stumps.

Between the sixth and the 14th overs, Stars managed just one boundary off the bat, with Williams flighting the ball more than usual and collecting a miserly 0 for 14 from his four overs. Hendricks went to a 48-ball fifty, but he became Mendis' second victim when he was caught in the deep for 55.

The re-introduction of seam changed the momentum of the innings, van Biljon and Dane Vilas pillaging 19 runs off the 17th over of the innings, bowled by Frylinck, and 20 off the penultimate over of the innings, bowled by Lutho Sipamla, as 67 runs flowed from the last four overs. But that wasn't quite enough to make up for the middle order dip, and Elgar's efforts meant that Spartans moved up from the bottom of the points table to third, while Stars slipped to fourth.