Cape Town Blitz 180 for 4 (Nawaz 59, Verreynne 53*) beat Tshwane Spartans 131 (de Villiers 59, Adams 3-28) by 49 runs
An all-round effort from Mohammad Nawaz, the Pakistan allrounder, handed Cape Town Blitz victory in the inaugural Mzansi Super League match in front of their home crowd at Newlands. Against AB de Villiers' Tshwane Spartans, Nawaz's 37-ball 59 lifted Blitz to a competitive 180 for 4 after which he returned with a tight spell of 1 for 30 to keep Spartans' run-scoring in check.
At one time, Blitz's total was in danger when de Villiers was going hell-for-leather during his 30-ball 59 in the chase, but a double-wicket over from medium-pacer Ferisco Adams dashed Spartans' hopes and ensured Blitz's comfortable 49-run victory in the end.
De Villiers used the reverse sweep to particularly good effect, hitting Nawaz and left-arm spinner George Linde over point with disdain on numerous occasions. But with no other batsman - barring Rilee Rossouw's brief resistance - giving de Villiers company, Spartans' effort looked rather listless.
Spartans' chase had started poorly as well. Opener Gihahn Cloete's laboured 13-ball 3 put them on the back foot early, and while Dean Elgar's 26-ball 32 helped them recover briefly, it was the regular wickets from the Blitz bowlers that kept their run flow in check. Each of Blitz's six bowlers was among the wickets, with Adams' 3 for 28 leading the effort.
The healthy margin of victory was down to the tight death bowling from the Blitz bowlers. Anrich Nortje bowled at 145kph regularly and delivered 15 dot balls in his 24-ball spell. That forced the batsmen to attack the other bowlers, but all they could do was hole out to the slower bowlers. Two run-outs didn't help Spartans' cause either as their shoulders drooped with the required run rate soaring. Eventually, it was Adams' caught-and-bowled effort that capped off Blitz's victory, with Spartans all out in the 20th over.
Earlier, Spartans had asked Blitz to bat under grey skies and made good use of it by dismissing Blitz's stand-in captain Dawid Malan for 5 in the second over. But as the ball got older, Nawaz and wicketkeeper-batsman Kyle Verreynne found their groove, adding a 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Coming together in the 10th over, their half-centuries lifted Blitz to 164 for 4, and by the time Nawaz was dismissed, Blitz were headed towards an above-par total. Linde's four-ball unbeaten 13 in the final over set Spartans a stiff target that was a bit too much for the visitors.
The opening match of the league was watched by a sizeable crowd at Newlands. Before the game started, the two captains - Malan and de Villiers - read out a 'Spirit of Cricket' pledge on the very ground that was witness to the ball-tampering scandal earlier this year.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo