A record century stand between Ben Dunk and Matthew Breetzke helped the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants assure themselves a ticket to the Mzansi Super League playoffs and put the Cape Town Blitz on the brink of elimination with a comfortable 11-run win at Newlands on Friday.
Both players struck half-centuries in a 136-run opening partnership – the highest for any wicket for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise in their brief history.
Australian Dunk, one of the star performers of the campaign, clubbed 75 off 56 balls (6 fours, 4 sixes) and rising young star Breetzke blasted 64 off 40 balls (7 fours, 2 sixes) to carry their side to 173 for six after they had lost the toss and were put into bat.
Janneman Malan then smashed six sixes in his 60 off 41 balls (1 four) as the hosts began brightly, but Imran Tahir (2/22), Jon-Jon Smut (1/3) and Akhona Mnyaka (1/16) then dragged them back to seal a decisive win.
It was one that propelled the Giants to what now seems an almost unassailable 27 points at the summit, with the fifth-placed Blitz needing to win their final match against the Tshwane Spartans and possibly with a bonus point at Centurion on Sunday to have any chance of making it through.
It was a disappointing end for the Cape Town side in front of their home fans, especially after promising so much with the ball late during the innings of the away side and also early on during the chase.
Dunk and Breetzke sizzled early on. Their stand came from less than 14 overs, before MSL debutant Ayabulela Gqamane (1/32), a replacement in the squad for the injured Aviwe Mgijima, struck.
He removed Breetzke first, before Jon-Jon Smuts (7) fell to the outstanding Wahab Riaz (3/19).
Dunk Fell next to Sisanda Magala, with the openers the only two players in the Giants line-up managing double figures as the Blitz bowlers tightened the noose to ensure the target was a manageable 174.
Malan and Quinton de Kock (40 off 19 balls) then launched themselves out of the blocks to leave their side looking like they might even get a bonus point at one stage.
The home side reached 85 for none by the end of the seventh over, before the wheels dramatically came off.
Malan still stuck around, though, and was there until the score was 122 in the 14th over, but he became one of six wickets to fall in the next five overs for 23 runs as the Blitz just could not get going.
In the end they fell to a heavy loss and one that leaves their hopes of the knockouts hanging by a thread.