The weather finally relented long enough for the Durban Heat to properly get their Mzansi Super League campaign (following two washouts) underway, but that didn’t translate into early success as they fell short by ten runs against the in-form Cape Town Blitz at Kingsmead on Sunday.
In all fairness, Gary Kirsten’s troops gave a decent account of themselves before simply lacking the match fitness to capitalise on good platforms.
Wihan Lubbe, a Highveld Lions player unwanted by the Jozi Stars, showed the struggling defending champions what they might be missing out on with a brilliant 83 off 42 balls, spearheading a chase of 175.
But he lacked support from the rest as a trio of Blitz seamers in Dale Steyn (2/23), Sisanda Magala and Wahab Riaz bowled superbly in the latter stages to derail the hosts’ ambitions.
Earlier, the Capetonians recovered from two early Andile Phehlukwayo (2/34) wickets to post a competitive total.
Marques Ackerman, on his home ground, played an anchoring 43, before Pakistan’s Asif Ali provided vital impetus with a typically beefy 43 off just 26, an effort that featured four sixes.
Batsman of the game
The left-handed Lubbe was excellent, striking five maximums and seven fours in his innings to remind all of his potential as one of the best young batsmen on the franchise circuit. He was particularly severe on the wayward Anrich Lubbe, and proved prolific on the on-side. His ability to pull is a thing of beauty.
Bowler of the game
Steyn was typically miserly and classy with his spell, but the star was Pakistan’s Riaz, who has already proven his worth as the Blitz’ international marquee. His bowling at the death proved decisive in snuffing out the Heat’s hopes.
Given how many runs he scored in that area, Lubbe’s skied pull off Steyn to short fine leg was as baffling as it was crucial. The Heat lost all their momentum from thereon.