Match No. 24 of the Mzansi Super League 2019 saw the Paarl Rocks clash against the Durban Heat at the Bolan Park in Port Elizabeth in an exciting encounter that saw the latter chase down a record score.
Both the sides came into this match on the back of positive results - Durban Heat had won their last fixture against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants whereas the Paarl Rocks had beaten the Jozi Stars to maintain their top spot on the MSL 2019 league standings.
The Durban Heat won the toss and elected to field putting the Paarl Rocks to bat first in the match. Paarl Rocks were off to a flyer right from the start as the opening pair of Cameron Delport and Henry Davids put up a 50-run partnership before Davids got out in the sixth over. Delport was joined by the Rocks' skipper FAF du Plessis and the two hit it off quickly as they scored at a brisk rate to keep the run rate high. After Delport was dismissed at a score of 84 in 49 balls with 105 on the board and just a tad more than eight overs to play, FAF du Plessis took things upon himself.
Du Plessis partnered with James Vince and the pair batted till the end as the Rocks captain smashed a knock of 66 runs in just 36 deliveries to take the first innings total to a commanding 195-2 at the end of the 20 overs. Du Plessis finished with three boundaries and four sixs to cap off a quickfire innings that he played at a strike rate of 183.33
Durban Heat had their work cut chasing 196 wins for the win but English opener Alex Hales was up for the task tonight. He started hitting the ball very well across the park and played at a good pace to stay in touching distance of the required run rate. Hales was ably supported by South African international David Miller in the middle order as the pair put up a crucial 62-run partnership.
Englishman Hales played till the end and ended up with a knock of 97 not out as the Durban Heat completed the highest chase in Mzansi Super League history and won their third match in a row. As a result of this loss, the Paarl Rocks fell to the second spot in the league standings and the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants moved to the top.
We take a look back at the three players who played a crucial role in determining the result of the match tonight.
#3 David Miller - Durban Heat
Hard-hitting batsman David Miller has been in fine form for the Durban Heat being one of the reasons for their winning streak. He scored an innings of 40 or more runs for the third time in the previous four matches of the Durban Heat.
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Miller was the perfect partner for Alex Hales in the middle of the innings as the Heat caught up to chase the record target set by the Rocks. Miller scored an innings of 40 runs in 22 balls with one four and three sixes to keep the pace going in the Heat's chase.
#2 Cameron Delport - Paarl Rocks
The Paarl Rocks were put up to bat by the Durban Heat and made hay with their chance setting a big target of 196 runs at their home turf. Much of the credit for the big score lies with the Rocks' opening batsman Cameron Delport.
Delport was in red hot form right from the first over and dominated the strike and the Heat bowlers with his exquisite scoring all over the ground. He finished with a score of 84 runs and was dismissed when the Rocks' total was just 105 runs cementing his impact in the initial half of their innings.
The opener scored 10 fours and three sixes on his way to the 84 runs at a strike rate of 171.42 and set the stage for a daunting chase for the Durban Heat.
#1 Alex Hales - Durban Heat
With a record run chase of 196 runs in front of them, the Durban Heat were in danger of breaking their winning streak in the previous two matches.
It was English opener Alex Hales who rose to the occasion and took charge of the Heat innings. Hales was at his usual free-scoring best right from the first over and smashed the Rocks bowling unit to all corners of the ground.
Along with David Miller in the middle of the innings, Hales orchestrated a dificult run chase with efficiency as he scored nine fours and four sixes to get to his 97 runs at 176.36 strike rate. He was rightfully adjudged the Man of the Match for his effort tonight.