In what might be his South African swansong, AB de Villiers scored a breathtaking 93 not out for the Tshwane Spartans … only for former team-mate Albie Morkel to clinch the win for the Durban Heat at SuperSport Park by two wickets with a ball to spare.
The Spartans took first use of the pitch in the final league match of the inaugural MSL tournament, with Gihahn Cloete (19 off 20 balls) and Andrea Agathangelou (18 off 13) adding 40 for the first wicket before both fell without the addition of a run by the start of the seventh over. Rashid Khan’s first over was the sixth of the innings, and he picked up the wicket of Agathangelou for just one run off the over. Grant Morgan and his charges must be ruing his unavailability for the majority of the MSL season.
Sikandar Raza (19 off 18) and AB de Villiers added 40 runs in 5.2 overs, after which the MSL enjoyed a swansong display of fireworks from De Villiers (although fans will hope he returns for the 2019 season).
The retired Proteas star added 42 for the fourth wicket with England’s Eoin Morgan, whose contribution was just seven from seven balls as De Villiers cut loose, smashing Kyle Abbott for 24 runs off the 13th over (including four fours), as well as hitting two sixes and a four off Heinrich Klaasen’s solitary over.
A further 40-run partnership followed with Tony de Zorzi, who scored 15 off 11 balls, with De Villiers slapping the last ball of the innings to the point boundary for four (with the assistance of a dropped catch), to take his exhilarating innings to 93 not out off just 52 balls (S/R 178.84), with 11 fours and four sixes.
Khan ended with the superb figures of 4-1-25-2 (econ 6.25), while Keshav Maharaj took 2-29 (econ 7.25).
The Heat’s reply started disastrously, with Newlands heroes Morne van Wyk (6) and Khaya Zondo (2) falling cheaply, along with Hashim Amla for a duck, as the Heat found themselves reeling on 16-3. Sadly, Amla has failed to find his feet in the MSL, scoring just 71 runs in his seven innings (ave 10.14) to the frustration of Heat fans who were hoping for their hero to light up the tournament.
David Miller was then bowled by Sikandar Raza for four to further compound the Heat’s misery, after which opener Sarel Erwee and Klaasen added 40 in five overs before Erwee was trapped leg before by the ever-impressive Lutho Sipamla for 30 off 25 balls (2×4, 2×6, S/R 125.00).
Klaasen took the score up to 98 before he became the sixth wicket to fall, top-scoring with 36 off 26 balls (1×4, 3×6, S/R 138.46). Playing in his 320th T20 match, Albie Morkel entered the fray determined to go down fighting, adding 41 with Maharaj for the seventh wicket before Sipamla removed Maharaj and Khan in a double-wicket strike in the 17th over.
Morkel hit Rory Kleinveldt for two fours and two sixes off the 18th over, leaving the Heat needing 17 runs off 12 balls. Andrew Birch sent down two wides in the penultimate over which went for 12 runs, with Morkel bringing up his 50 off the fifth ball of the over with a six over long-on, in the process taking his side within five runs of the win.
Eldred Hawken kept the Heat to three runs off the first four balls of the final over, then induced Kyle Abbott to hit a catch to Morgan … only for the ball to be adjudged a no-ball to leave the Heat needing two runs from two balls for the win. Abbott hit the fifth ball of the innings for two to bring up an incredible victory by two wickets with a ball in hand.
Morkel ended on 57 not out off just 28 balls (4×4, 5×6, S/R 203.57), an incredible knock by an experienced campaigner, deservedly picking up the Player of the Match award.
Sipamla ended with figures of 3-37 (econ 9.25) and Kleinveldt 2-34 (econ 8.50) in what was a thrilling contest.
However, it was a sad end for two very impressive MSL squads who offered so much on paper but failed to produce the results needed to take them into the playoff stages, the two teams ending in fifth and six spots on the log. To be fair, however, both teams suffered very bad luck with the weather during the tournament, while for the Spartans the loss of dangerman Lungi Ngidi before the tournament started was a bitter blow.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
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