Paarl Rocks 168 for 5 (Delport 39) beat Nelson Mandela Bay Giants 156 for 6 (Kuhn 58, Adams 3-36) by 12 runs
The Paarl Rocks secured a home final in this year's edition of the Mzansi Super League by defending 168 against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at Boland Park. The win puts the Rocks on 27 points, the same number as the Giants, but they qualify automatically for the final by virtue of their head-to-head record against the Giants. The Rocks beat the Giants in both pool matches defending similar totals.
The Rocks scored 166 for 7 and beat the Giants by 31 runs in Port Elizabeth 10 days ago. It was tighter today, as the Rocks scored 168 for 5 and won by 12 runs today.
Team news and a good change
Ferisco Adams was brought into the Rocks XI because Hardus Viljoen was unavailable for this match and had early success when he bowled Matthew Breetzke with his first ball. But Adams' immediate impact paled in comparison to Viljoen's reason for not playing which his captain Faf du Plessis revealed a little too much about.
Adams also defended 23 runs off the final over, after his first three balls went for nine runs including a massive six from Marco Marais. The Giants' middle-order man has impressed with his death hitting in this competition and almost took the game away from the Rocks despite being struck on the arm twice by his batting partner Heino Kuhn, who was trying to get the ball past the non-striker in a bid to push for victory. Adams had a memorable finish to the game, taking two wickets in two balls to dismiss Marais and Kuhn in successive balls and seal the Rocks' spot in the final.
Bjorn Fortuin lived up to his last name with a run-out that may be called fortunate to dismiss Giants' captain Jon-Jon Smuts, who is also their second-highest run-scorer in the tournament. Smuts was at the non-strikers' end when Kuhn his the ball back to Fortuin. Smuts had ventured a few feet out of his crease, anticipating a run, but Fortuin reacted quickly to get down, and deflect the ball onto the stumps. Smuts saw him and tried to get back but Fortuin was a fraction quicker and Smuts was short of his ground. The Giants were 62 for 3 at that stage and needed to score at 9.6 runs an over to win, something Fortuin played his part in preventing. He finished with 0 for 19 in his four overs, and conceded no boundaries in a stellar effort to strangle the Giants.
Shamsi's stoke of luck
Fortuin's built pressure and Tabraiz Shamsi cashed in with a crucial, and lucky breakthrough, the over after Fortuin's spell ended. Ryan ten Doeschate played across the line to a Shamsi delivery that struck him on the back pad and was given out. Shamsi took off in celebration sans any shoe-phone or magic tricks while ten Doeschate looked on in disbelief. Replays showed the ball was missing leg stump by some distance but with no DRS in operation, ten Doeschate had no recourse and the Rocks had a key wicket.
Delport digs in
With a home final on the cards, Cameron Delport and Henry Davids got their team off to a strong start with 51 runs in the first five overs. Delport led the charge scoring 35 runs off the 20 balls he faced, including eight fours. Three of them came in successive balls off Chris Morris, all in the 'V' down the ground. Delport hit one more boundary before he was caught off a top edge but his innings put him into the top five run-scorers in the competition. He has 246 runs at 27.33 so far, behind AB de Villiers, Reeza Hendricks, Ben Dunk and Janneman Malan.
Better than Steyn
After a match-winning 2 for 22 against the Cape Town Blitz on Friday night, Imran Tahir put on another authoritative performance which took to the top of the wicket-charts for the tournament. His two wickets came in two balls. First, he uprooted James Vince's off stump and then deceived Sibonelo Makhanya with a googly that Makhanya chipped straight back to a short mid-on, put in place specifically for that dismissal. Tahir now has 16 wickets, one more than Dale Steyn, and also the best economy rate of any bowler who has bowled more than six overs at this competition. Tahir has conceded at less than six runs an over - 5.68 - in the 38 overs he has bowled in his 10 group games.