All-round Blitz leave Jozi Stars’ MSL defence in tatters

Liam Livingstone of Cape Town Blitz during the Mzansi Super League match between Cape Town Blitz and Jozi Stars at Newlands Stadium on November 14, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Overseas stars Liam Livingstone and Wahab Riaz prove their worth for the Capetonians as the defending champions falter again.

As easily as a team can regain momentum in a crammed tournament like the Mzansi Super League, so quickly can a losing streak spiral into a massive slump.

The Jozi Stars will certainly start fearing the worst after the Cape Town Blitz handed them a third consecutive defeat at Newlands on Thursday night.

The 57-run loss leaves the defending champions rooted in the basement of the log with no points, while their hosts are back on track.

On a misty evening, the Stars once again strangely chose to bowl first in condAllitions that arguably called on one to rather take first strike.

Quinton de Kock’s dynamic 41 off just 21 deliveries immediately put them under pressure when their bowlers actually needed to back up skipper Temba Bavuma’s decision at the toss.

After a brief fightback by the spin twins of Aaron Phangiso (1/17) and Simon Harmer (1/17), Englishman Liam Livingstone changed the complexion of the game with an inventive and powerful 65 off 41 balls.

His platform allowed the Blitz’ marquee international, Pakistani Wahab Riaz, to add an unbeaten, 13-ball 29, powering the Capetonians to 183/6 – a target way too steep in the conditions.

Once the rapid Anrich Nortje castled Chris Gayle with his fifth ball, the Stars were on the back foot and a collective lack of confidence took hold.

Bavuma’s maiden MSL fifty – a classy 62 off 42 – was the only contribution that remotely kept the Stars afloat against a versatile attack greatly reinforced by Wahab.

Sisanda Magala showed his full bag of tricks with figures of 3/17.

Batsman of the game

Livingstone’s effort was a superb effort, a modern T20 innings where prudence was mixed with aggression. He came in at a tricky stage of the innings, but his willingness to attack meant the fragile confidence of the Stars’ attack was easily shattered again.

Bowler of the game

Magala was undeniably canny, yet Nortje’s bustling opening burst was vital. Except for removing the dangerous Gayle, his economy also meant that the Stars never had the batting momentum they desperately needed right from the outset.

Turning point

Promising 19-year-old debutant Gerald Coetzee had dragged the Stars back into the game after De Kock’s explosive start, but he was given no respite by Livingstone, who hit him for 17 runs in his third over. Given his inexperience, the Blitz’ batting mainstay threw the teenager off his rhythm and kick-started the assault.

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