The Jozi Stars once again reminded all that out-of-form teams invariably forget how to win games.
That was the dominant theme of the MSL’s Gauteng derby at the Wanderers on Sunday as the home side were the architects of their own downfall by 20 runs as opposed to the Tshwane Spartans outplaying them.
Donovan Miller’s troops, last year’s champions, are now very much out of the reckoning and can blame spurning winning positions twice.
First, they reduced the Spartans for 47/4 in the 10th over through their varied attack before allowing AB de Villiers and Pite van Biljon to construct a vital 63-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Van Biljon, the Knights captain, dominated that stand with a muscular 45 off 29 deliveries, allowing his senior and Proteas legend to overcome his sluggish start.
De Villiers then took over to eventually hit a 33-ball 53, allowing the Spartans to reach 155/6.
That competitive total initially looked inadequate as Chris Gayle, playing his last game of this year’s campaign, provided belatedly entertainment with a typically brutal 54 off just 27 balls, a fun stay at the crease that included six fours and four maximums.
Temba Bavuma (35) and Rassie van der Dussen (20) carried on that momentum, guiding the Stars to 113/2 in the 13th over.
But the duo’s dismissals in successive overs led to an astonishing collapse – they lost their last eight wickets for just 22 runs!
English marquee Tom Curran impressed with a skillful spell of 3/30, while the experience of Morne Morkel (3/21) and Roelof van der Merwe (2/11) also proved telling.
Batsman of the game
You had to admire the competitiveness and determination of Van Biljon, who remains one of South African cricket’s most underrated performers with the bat. To take the lead in a partnership with an illustrious figure like De Villiers in such a difficult situation said much about the Knights’ leader’s hidden class.
Bowler of the game
Curran was excellent, particularly how he managed to dislodge not only Gayle, but the Stars’ most consistent batter in Reeza Hendricks.
Gayle looked in no mood to spoil his Calypso-like party at the crease, particularly after hitting Curran for two sixes in his second over. But his castling was a mortal blow to a Stars batting unit low on confidence … and showed the guts of Curran, who bowled him with a slower ball.