A solid half-century from captain Jon-Jon Smuts preceded by a strong bowling display from the home team’s new-ball bowlers powered the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants to a clinical nine-wicket victory in the Mzansi Super League clash at St George’s Park on Friday evening.
The Giants, though, just missed out on the bonus point after passing the Durban Heat’s 127/6 in the 18th over.
Smuts (62 not out off 52 balls, 6x4, 2x6) shared a 94-run opening partnership with Marco Marais in 12.5 overs that ensured the chase would be a routine one. Marais (42 off 38 balls, 5x4, 1x6) was the chief aggressor in the partnership with the 25-year-old finally showing the sort of form that had made him an overnight sensation earlier in the season during the Africa T20 Cup playing for Border.
After Marais’s dismissal, England international Ben Duckett (21 not out off 16 balls) finished the job with his skipper.
After losing the toss and being sent in to bat, the Durban Heat failed to recover from a poor powerplay. The Giants opening bowlers were impressive from the outset with Junior Dala (2/16) striking with the second ball of the innings before Chris Morris struck two telling blows in his first over.
Standard Bank Proteas all-rounder Morris (2/29) removed the Heat’s big-hitters, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller, with successive balls to leave the visitors in all sorts of trouble at 10/3.
Hashim Amla had witnessed the carnage from the other end, but even he could not rescue the visitors after being trapped LBW for 12 by his national teammate, Imran Tahir, in the eight over.
Khaya Zondo (26), Albie Morkel (28), Vernon Philander (26) and Keshav Maharaj tried valiantly to get the Heat up to a total capable of defending, but their momentum was stalled when captain Morkel was forced to retire hurt after a freak accident out in the middle.
Morkel and Philander’s partnership was just beginning to grow when the latter struck a fierce drive off Tahir straight back. Morkel could not evade the missile coming his way with the ball striking both his arm and right-hand, which forced him to leave the field and head to hospital.
Fortunately, Morkel returned to St George’s Park, but could not take the field, leaving Zondo to lead the Heat.