The Sunrisers Eastern Cape completed a five-wicket win over the Paarl Royals at St George’s Park on Sunday to secure top spot on the log.
The Sunrisers gave their passionate supporters the perfect farewell gift ahead of their playoff qualifier against Durban’s Super Giants at Newlands on Tuesday.
Royals captain David Miller finally won his first toss of the season and opted to bat first with his team posting a competitive 159-7.
Jos Buttler (38), Dane Vilas (34) and Wihan Lubbe (27) all made worthwhile contributions, while Ottniel Baartman (2-33) finished with the best figures for the Sunrisers.
The Sunrisers suffered a blow ahead of the match with leading batsman Tom Abell ruled out through injury, but this allowed for the return of Proteas Test and ODI captain Temba Bavuma to the starting XI.
Bavuma had not played any white-ball cricket since the Proteas’ World Cup semi-finals in Kolkata last November due to injury. He took on the responsibility of guiding the Sunrisers’ run chase as the home team lost wickets at regular intervals.
The highlight of his innings was a sweet sweep shot off left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin that sailed into the stands.
Bavuma shared a 63-run partnership off just 45 balls with the Sunrisers’ Aiden Markram (37 off 27 balls), before following it up with another crucial 26-run stand with Tristan Stubbs.
Unfortunately, Bavuma could not take the Sunrisers all the way over the line when he held out in the last over for 33 off 30 balls to debutant rookie, Nqaba Peter, who was entrusted with the final six balls.
Patrick Kruger ensured the Sunrisers’ “12th man” would leave St George’s Park with smiles as he struck six off the penultimate delivery of the innings.
The Royals, therefore, finished in third place on the table and will head to the Wanderers to face the fourth-placed Joburg Super Kings in the eliminator on Wednesday.
The loser of the first qualifier playoff and winner of the eliminator will go head-to-head for the second final spot in the second qualifier playoff on Thursday.
Photo: Ron Gaunt/Sportzpics