While the purists might not have approved, the second edition of the Mzansi Super League arguably got off to the most entertaining start possible as the Cape Town Blitz shaded the Jozi Stars by 15 runs at the Wanderers on Friday night in a run fest.
On a wonderful batting surface, the Newlands-based franchise amassed a superb 213/3, with the highly promising Janneman Malan continuing where he left off in 2018’s inaugural edition with a magnificent, unbeaten 99 off just 59 deliveries.
His effort allowed the rest of the Blitz’s explosive batting order to bat around him.
The Stars, defending champions, made a decent fist of chasing down a daunting target.
Reeza Hendricks was typically classy in crafting a fine 80 off 53, but, following sprightly contributions from Temba Bavuma (38 off 15) and Rassie van der Dussen (31 off 21), the home side fell away.
Batsman of the game
It was pretty hard to look past Malan. The 23-year-old opener laid down an important psychological marker by fearlessly taking on a potent Stars attack.
He was hardly troubled by Proteas spearhead Kagiso Rabada and played a big role in hitting Duanne Olivier, last year’s leading wicket-taker, out of the attack.
Malan’s game on the off-side is a treat and it was a pity that he couldn’t get bat on ball with the last delivery of the innings to reach a richly deserved century.
Bowler of the game
The wily Dale Steyn was simply a class above the rest in this game.
He took 3/25 in his four-over quota, mixing his pace and lengths brilliantly. No player on either side had a better economy rate than the Blitz’ veteran.
It’s tempting to say Bavuma being caught behind off the back foot against Moeen Ali, but Steyn’s dismissal of Van der Dussen was a killer blow. It’s not like Van der Dussen was looking like a runaway train, but he has a reputation for finishing his innings brilliantly. And nipping that possibility in the bud was the difference between the teams.