Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Paarl Rocks 166 for 7 (Vince 37, Tahir 2-19) beat Nelson Mandela Bay Giants 135 (Dunk 45, Viljoen 2-21, Shamsi 2-24, Adams 2-27, Fortuin 2-28) by 31 runs
It took a team performance, in the truest sense of the phrase, for the Paarl Rocks to beat the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and go on top of the points table in the Mzansi Super League. The Rocks' top-scorer made only 37 before each of their bowlers took two wickets to bowl out the Giants. The result was a comfortable 31-run win to silence the home crowd.
The Giants had done well with the ball to restrict the Rocks to 166 for 7 with four wickets in four consecutive overs when the death overs started to avoid what could have been a bigger total. But barring Ben Dunk, none of their batsmen made use of their starts, and they fell prey to the spin attack of Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin under the lights to fold for 135.
Spin rocks the Rocks early
Asked to bat, the Rocks began slowly after Beuran Hendricks delivered two tight overs, but openers Henry Davids and Cameron Delport shellacked Chris Morris and Junior Dala for plenty. Dala's first over went for 19 as Delport struck a hat-trick of boundaries to end the fourth.
Imran Tahir then struck within three balls of the fifth over when Delport flat-batted one to mid-off. Faf du Plessis, who has had a lukewarm season, ramped Morris in the next over for four over fine leg and followed it up with a six over long-on.
After two quiet overs, du Plessis also smashed Onke Nyaku over long-on but a two-wicket over from the Giants captain JJ Smuts turned the tide. Off the first ball of Smuts' second over, Davids holed out to long-off and five balls later, a miscommunication between the new man James Vince and du Plessis saw the latter depart for 27.
The Rocks finish strong
The run-out may have played a part in Vince taking on the anchor's role thereafter. He struck boundaries in the next three overs to take the Rocks past three figures before they lost four late wickets, including that of Vince for 37 and the hard-hitting Isuru Udana. But No. 8 Ferisco Adams struck 23 in 12 balls to lift the Rocks to a respectable score.
Bravery favours Fortuin
Left-arm spinner Fortuin was handed the new ball in the chase, and a full drifting delivery saw Jason Roy bowled for a golden duck as he made room to smash the ball but missed it completely. Smuts and Matthew Breetzke then kept the score ticking, but Hardus Viljoen broke the partnership in the fifth over by knocking over Smuts. He was timing the ball well, but Smuts found Vince at mid-on while trying to flick one.
No. 4 Dunk didn't let the intensity drop by slogging Shamsi for six, but Breetzke couldn't get the same result off Fortuin as he mistimed one to du Plessis at long-on for 22. Although Dunk then whacked Fortuin for a six in the final over of his spell, he finished with 2 for 28 in four overs. When Fortuin's spell ended, the Giants required 89 from 54 balls, at nearly 10 runs per over, with seven wickets in hand.
Bizarre Dunk dismissal ends Giants' hopes
Till Dunk was in the middle, the home crowd had hope even though Heino Kuhn and Marco Marais fell cheaply to Shamsi in the 14th over. With No. 7 Morris, Dunk struck a few boundaries off the pacers, but the required run rate kept rising. Two balls after Morris' dismissal to a yorker from Adams, Dunk was adjudged hit wicket after replays showed his heel had knocked the bails off. With 49 still required from 17, the Giants never recovered and the Rocks missed a bonus point by not being able to restrict the Giants to 132.