Quinton de Kock sets off for a run © Associated Press
Cape Town Blitz 172 for 9 (de Kock 108, Williams 2-14, Bosch 2-27) beat Thswane Spartans 112 (Nawaz 3-14, Burger 3-19) by 60 runs
Quinton de Kock struck his fourth T20 century – a superlative knock on a night where only two other batsmen made more than 30 – as Cape Town Blitz countered Nelson Mandela Bay Giants’ bonus point win on Friday with one of their own. This means that Blitz are now six points clear of the Giants at the top of the table. On the flip side, AB de Villiers’ Tshwane Spartans registered their fourth loss in six games, and will wonder how they managed to lose by 60 runs, having reduced Blitz to 101 for 8 at one point after electing to bowl.
The pitch had bothered Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan early on with its two-paced nature. But not to the extent it would cripple all the batsmen that followed the two openers, who still managed to strike at nearly ten an over during their 83-run stand. The introduction of spin through Jeevan Mendis’ legbreaks brought the dismissal Spartans were searching for. Pinchitter Andile Phehlukwayo was bowled by fast bowler Corbin Bosch next over and it was swiftly followed by two wickets in two balls by Sean Williams – Farhaan Behardien and Asif Ali both out after being beaten in flight by the left-arm spinner.
And it just didn’t seem to stop. Batsmen fell rapidly against both pace and spin with the pitch showing a dramatic change in nature, and in five overs, Blitz crumbled for a collapse that read 8 for 18.
But the return of Lutho Sipamla seemed to have encouraged de Kock, who had taken the bowler for 17 off 5 in the second over of the innings. In his third, the 15th of the innings, he hit him for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries. This gave him momentum going into the next over, where he spent the first four balls dismantling Mendis: a six over long-off to start, followed by boundaries at deep extra cover, deep backward square and wide long-on. In two overs, Blitz had moved from 101 for 8 to 133 for 8, and suddenly Spartans knew they were in for a brutal assault. Having galloped from 67 to 86 in five balls, de Kock didn’t take too long to bring up his hundred, a powerful drive wide of mid-off sealing that milestone for him in the 18th over.
He fell in the 19th with the score 158. And it wouldn’t have gone past 160 if Andrew Birch hadn’t overstepped first ball of the 20th. The seamer had managed to get Nandre Burger to sky a leading edge to third man, but his front foot landing ended up costing Spartans a further 12 runs in damage as Blitz remarkably managed to bat out their last 6.1 overs without being bowled out.
De Kock’s innings would have encouraged Spartans, nonetheless. It showed that the runs were there to be had, and that Blitz may have well made more if their middle order had chipped in. However, they soon realised that the struggles they caused were more than cosmetic. Even while facing the new ball, strokemaking seemed almost impossible for openers Gihahn Cloete and Dean Elgar. The few boundaries that did come were not all controlled shots, and quite a few of them came off edges.
In fact, it got so bad by the time the spinners came on, that No. 3 batsman Theunis de Bruyn couldn’t find the boundary a single time in the 17 balls he faced. When he pulled Mohammad Nawaz to long-on, Spartans were striking at less than seven per over at the halfway stage.
Any hopes of recovering from those depths were squashed in the following over, with Malusi Siboto rattling de Villiers’ stumps. It was symptomatic of the pitch: de Villiers got an inside edge onto thigh guard that deflected onto the stumps. Like most other batsmen on the pitch, de Villiers simply couldn’t come to terms with the slowness during his 10-ball innings.
Nawaz turned the screws further with his third wicket in the next over and finished with 3 for 14 in his three. There was little Spartans could do to recover, having gone more than six overs without a boundary after the eighth over of the innings. Attempts at aggression were futile in the end, and Burger used that to round off an impressive first game of the season with figures of 3 for 19.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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