A superb bowling display followed by an AB de Villiers gem in front of the Centurion faithful sent the Tshwane Spartans top of the Mzansi Super League table after they crushed the previous log-leaders Paarl Rocks by eight wickets for a bonus-point win at SuperSport Park on Friday.
The right-hander crunched 69 off 37 balls, which included three sixes and six fours, to help the hosts chase down a below par 127-run target with a full five overs to spare.
On a night when the 2019 MSL finally arrived in Tshwane – the biggest crowd of the competition thus far was in attendance – the home team won the toss and fielded, with their bowlers delivering a clinical display.
Man of the match Roelof van der Merwe led the way with a stellar three for 15 in four overs, while there were also doubles from Morne Morkel (2/22) and Lungi Ngidi (2/25).
That set the stage for Mr. 360 and he entertained the capacity crowd with a typical De Villiers spectacle that not only gave them the win, but also a crucial bonus point that launched them to the top of the log.
There is a three-way tie for that position with Nelson Mandela Bay Giants second and the Rocks now dropping to third – all three on 19 points.
It was a satisfying win for the only unbeaten side still standing, although the game had not started out as they would have planned early on.
Top-scorer Cameron Delport (25) and Henry Davids (14) provided the flying starts the Rocks would have been craving as they raced to 50 inside five overs.
Both were dismissed in that period, though, as Morkel and Ngidi struck, before captain Faf du Plessis (19) and Sibonelo Makhanya (16) kept the momentum going.
However, both fell to the spin of Van der Merwe as things then went south for the visitors.
From 74 for three, they lost their remaining seven sticks for 52 to be bowled out in 19.4 overs.
Theunis de Bruyn (5) then fell early in the chase to Bjorn Fortuin (1/21), but De Villiers immediately cut loose as the Spartans reached 54 before Dean Elgar fell for just 5.
From there, it was one-way traffic as the former Standard Bank Proteas captain and his Tshwane skipper, Heinrich Klaasen (36 off 20 balls), shared in an unbroken 73-run partnership that led them to a big win.