Mzansi Super League 2019 action carried on as the final week of league matches saw the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants take on the Tshwane Spartans in a clash of the contenders in Port Elizabeth's St. George's Park Cricket Ground.
The two sides had come into this encounter on the back of losses and aimed to get their season back on track with the hopes of maintaining their playoffs position in the league standings.
The Tshwane Spartans elected to bat after winning the toss and got off to a flying start with Tony de Zorzi and Wiaan Mulder scoring freely as they put up a 57 run stand. The star batsman AB de Villiers joined in and put up a strong partnership with Wiaan Mulder as both of them got a fifty score. Mulder departed for 52 runs whereas De Villiers continued his form in the league a quickfire 63 runs off 38 balls scoring 6 fours and 2 fours in his innings.
The Spartans put up a total of 188 runs at a loss of five wickets setting the stage for a daunting chase for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.
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Bay Giants got off on the worst start as Lungi Ngidi picked up two wickets in the fifth over to make it 28-3 with the skipper JJ Smuts back in the pavilion. Ben Dunk took charge of the chase along with Dutchman Ryan ten Doeschate, putting up a 78-run partnership to get back on track.
Dunk ended up taking the Bay Giants home after he was joined by Marco Marais who scored quick knock of 38 runs in 22 balls as the Giants completed the highest chase in MSL history.
We take a look at the three players who played the biggest role in determining the result in the Spartans vs Bay Giants clash.
#1 AB de Villiers - Tshwane Spartans
The key man of the Tshwane Spartans' batting lineup, AB de Villiers continued his rich vein of form with the bat as he rose higher in the top runs scoring charts with another half-century. He ranks fourth now with a total of 247 runs in seven matches so far.
De Villiers walked in to bat at No. 3 position after a strong start by the Spartans and continued to roll with the momentum using his typical flair and power to get runs with ease. His partnership with Wiaan Mulder was crucial to Spartans putting up a huge score on the board.
He ended up with a score of 63 runs in 38 balls at a strong strike rate of 165.79 leading the Spartans to a total of 188 runs in the first innings.
#2 Marco Marais - Nelson Mandela Bay Giants
Middle order batsman Marco Marais proved to be an unlikely hero for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants as he helped the in-form Ben Dunk perfectly after joining the run chase at a crucial juncture.
With seven overs to go and 82 runs to chase for the win, Marais walked in and was a go-getter from the first ball and scored at a brisk rate. He ended up with a score of 38 runs in 22 balls as the Bay Giants chased down the score with two balls to spare.
Marais scored his knock at a superb strike rate of 172.73 which was the perfect second fiddle to Ben Dunk who was spearheading the chase from the start.
#3 Ben Dunk - Nelson Mandela Bay Giants
Australian hard-hitting opening batsman Ben Dunk was at his very best for the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. Despite being in a tough spot at 28/3 at the end five overs, Dunk gathered his composure and kept going at his pace to keep the side in the hunt.
Along with Ryan ten Doeschate, Dunk started the first key partnership of the innings taking them to a decent position to chase the target at 106-4 with seven overs to go. He kept scoring at a brisk rate while Marco Marais played his cameo of 38 crucial runs as the Bay Giants chased down the score with two balls to spare.
Dunk just missed out on a century as he ended with a 99* in only 54 balls with 10 boundaries and 4 sixes at an outrageous strike rate of 183.33.