Cape Town Blitz 213 for 3 (Malan 99*, de Kock 35, Moeen 25) beat Jozi Stars 198 for 5 (Hendricks 80, Bavuma 38, Steyn 3-25) by 15 runs
The season premiere of MSL 2019 was an evening to remember, as defending champions Jozi Stars nearly went the distance in their chase in front of a home crowd, before falling just 15 runs short to Cape Town Blitz.
In their chase of 214, opener Reeza Hendricks impressed with a 53-ball 80 for Stars, their new captain Temba Bavuma struck a crisp 15-ball 38 and Rassie van der Dussen hit 31 in 21 balls, but Blitz’s Dale Steyn struck twice in his final spell to take the fizz out of Stars’ chase.
In the first innings, the fans at The Wanderers were given a show by Blitz opener Janneman Malan, who struck an unbeaten 99. Fate was in his own hand to reach triple figures, but he failed to get a run off the final ball of the innings. Brisk contributions from the rest of their batting order lifted Blitz to 213 for 3.
De Kock, Malan punish wayward bowlers
Stars had asked Blitz to bat at the toss, and that decision seemed to backfire right away when Malan took 12 off the first over of the season. He flicked offspinner Simon Harmer to fine leg off the game’s first ball for four and that set the tone.
Malan then creamed 11 off Kagiso Rabada’s over from the other end, and then followed it up by clubbing a flurry of boundaries off Dane Paterson. From 32 for 0 after three overs, Blitz finished on 69 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay as Quinton de Kock began to find his footing too.
Ample support for Malan
De Kock was the first to fall, out for 35 in the seventh over, trying to clear Harmer over deep midwicket. But Blitz didn’t did the tempo drop. Moeen Ali walked in at first drop and tonked three fours and a six to add 25 in 15 deliveries, and when he was out caught in the deep to Dan Christian’s slower ball, Liam Livingstone emulated his countrymate with 10-ball innings of 21 that included three sixes.
Livingstone went hard, in particular, to medium-pacer Nono Pongolo, hitting two of his slower balls for two sixes off consecutive deliveries. His dismissal in the 14th over brought in allrounder George Linde, and he added a further 24 in 13 balls, unbeaten at the end of 20 overs.
From the other end, Malan kept punishing anything wide that the pacers offered. His proficiency in off-side play was evident as he cut and drove Rabada, Paterson and Duanne Olivier through the innings. He anchored the innings after de Kock’s dismissal while the batsmen at the other end went for riskier shots.
Malan entered the nineties in the 18th over by pulling Rabada for a six, but was starved of the strike at the back end. Needing a single off the final ball of the innings, he failed to connect with Christian’s slower ball, finishing on 99 as Stars were set a target of 214.
Bavuma, Hendricks return the favour
Stars opener Chris Gayle engaged in some cat-and-mouse play with Steyn, Anrich Nortje and Vernon Philander in the first three overs of the chase but outfoxed the pacers by using his feet to play square to short balls. His 13-ball stay of 17 allowed Hendricks to settle in from the other end, but Gayle was dismissed by Steyn’s slower ball in the fourth over.
Bavuma then counterattacked with some nifty footwork, finding boundaries off the pacers to keep the run-rate hovering around ten. He lasted only 15 balls, but his innings at a strike-rate of 253 kept Stars in the chase at the turn of the final ten overs, where they needed a further 99 runs.
Steyn shows his class
Van der Dussen was innovative against the spinners. Off Mohammad Nawaz and Moeen he found the boundaries often and his back-to-back fours off Linde in the 14th over brought up Stars’ 150.
That forced Blitz captain de Kock to turn to pace again, and after a tidy over from Magala, Steyn returned to strike almost immediately. Van der Dussen tried to flick a full ball to the leg side but a leading-edge sent the ball the other direction instead. Magala ran in from point and dove to break the 53-run stand.
Hendricks continued the barrage with three fours in the next over to keep Stars in the hunt, but he fell in a similar fashion as van der Dussen in the 18th over, looking for a big shot off Steyn only to hit the ball in the air.
Off the next 13 balls, Stars added only 12 more, handing de Kock’s Blitz a win on the opening night of the second MSL season.