Nono Pongolo had only previously hit two T20 sixes in his career, but he needed two sixes off the last two balls in order for the Jozi Stars to beat the Durban Heat … and the 29-year-old delivered in sensational fashion.
The Heat chose to bat first, but failed to take the initiative, being bowled out for 128 off 18.3 overs. Sarel Erwee struck MSL form for the first time, scoring a powerful 62 off 39 balls, with nine fours and one six (S/R 158.97).
Erwee and David Miller added 32 for the fourth wicket after Morne van Wyk (1), Temba Bavuma (1) and Khaya Zondo (0) had failed to fire with the bat.
Miller was caught by Nono Pongolo for 29 off 29 balls (1×6), with Keshav Maharaj (11 off 12) the only other man to make it into double figures.
Kagiso Rabada picked up 3-29 (econ 8.28), while newly recalled Proteas paceman Duanne Olivier (2-25), Daniel Christian (2-24) and Simon Harmer (2-20, econ 5.00) each picked up two wickets, with Dwaine Pretorius bowling superbly to take 1-19 (econ 4.75).
The Stars failed to shine with the bat, with talisman Chris Gayle falling for five in the third over, followed the next over by Reeza Hendricks for eight off 14 balls.
Simon Harmer (25 off 22, 2×6), Ryan Rickelton (13 off 10, 3×4) and Rassie van der Dussen (14 off 15, 1×6) added vital runs, but it was skipper Dane Vilas who kept the chase alive with a sparkling 43 off 36 balls (2×4, 2×6, S/R 119.44) before he fell in the second last over.
Needing 14 runs off the last over, Marchant de Lange started with a single and next ball bowled Kagiso Rabada for a duck and followed that with a single and a dot ball. Needing 12 runs off two balls, the 29-year-old Nono Pongolo was on strike with the odds stacked heavily against him: he has batted just once in his four previous MSL matches (scoring four runs) and in his previous 26 T20 matches he had only hit a total of two sixes.
The fifth ball of the last over from De Lange was a waist-high full toss which Pongolo whacked over fine leg for six … and the umpire correctly called no ball. De Lange bowled another waist-high full toss which Pongolo swung hard and high over fine leg for six and a sensational victory. Ironically, the last ball was also signalled as a no-ball, so the Stars win came with two balls in hand.
Pongolo’s 14 came off just 7 balls and his joy was unconfined, but De Lange must have wanted the Kingsmead turf to open up and swallow him, as he returned figures of 2.4-0-38-1 (econ 14.25).
Rashid Khan (3-19, econ 4.75), Kyle Abbott (2-17, econ 4.25) and Keshav Maharaj (0-18, econ 4.50) each put in a great shift in a brave Heats display on the field in what transpired to be a bitter blow for the Heat. Based on Rashid Khan’s two matches to date, one can only imagine that the Heat would have enjoyed greater success had their international marque player been available for their entire campaign.
Dane Vilas secured the Player of the Match award for his captain’s knock of 43 that ensured that the Durban Heat were finally eliminated from contention for a playoff place.
ERRATUM: Our initial report stated that Pongolo had never previously hit a six in T20 cricket. Our stats source was not updated at the time of our report and it did not show that he had previously hit two sixes, one of which came against Border this year in the final of the Africa T20 Cup. Out apologies to Nono – as well as our hearty congratulations!
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images