JONHENRY WILSON takes a look at five components that carried the Jozi Stars to a convincing eight-wicket win over the Cape Town Blitz in Sunday’s Mzansi Super League final at Newlands.
Harmer with the new ball
The decision to open the bowling with spinner Simon Harmer worked well. The Paarl Rocks used spinner Bjorn Fortuin to good effect earlier in the tournament, and this time around it was the Stars who benefited from deploying a slow bowler with the new ball. Harmer was the visitors’ most economical bowler on the day, but his first over was the most telling. It seemingly unsettled Quinton de Kock, who might have anticipated facing Kagiso Rabada first up.
Nono Pongolo was a late edition to the Stars squad – and ended as a vital member of the first-choice playing XI. He starred with the bat against the Durban Heat and with the ball against the Tshwane Spartans, and on Sunday delivered on cue again. This time, he displayed his all-round ability in the field, holding on to an acrobatic catch to get rid of Farhaan Behardien. The Blitz captain was threatening to get going, but ultimately perished to a great grab on the fence.
Small totals can be tricky to chase, but Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen quickly quietened the Blitz’ hope after they got rid of Ryan Rickelton early. Hendricks and Van der Dussen dominated the entire tournament, and, fittingly did so on the day as well. In terms of bench-strength batting for the World Cup, they have set themselves apart from several other pretenders. Now, if there is space for only one on the plane to the United Kingdom next year, the national selectors have a genuine quandary on their hands.
Christian steps up
Chris Gayle’s departure before the closing throes of the tournament left the Stars short of a primary overseas player, but secondary international recruit Dan Christian stepped up soon enough. Vital with the bat and ball in the lead-up fixtures to the final, his performance with the ball typified his importance again on Sunday. With the opposition top order rattled and the change seamers needing to follow up on the work of the new-ball bowlers, Christian led the way and snatched the wicket of the dangerous Mohammad Nawaz.