A breathtaking innings of 80 by Pakistan’s Asif Ali lifted the Cape Town Blitz from the depths of despair to a sensational victory over the Durban Heat at Kingsmead.
After being sent in to bat, Morne van Wyk and Hashim Amla got the Durban Heat innings off to a great start, adding 41 runs off 5.2 overs before Van Wyk got a little too ambitious and looked to repeat sweeping Dale Steyn for six when Anrich Nortje steamed into him for the sixth over.
After pulling a six and cutting a four off Nortje’s first two deliveries of that over, Van Wyk moved across his stumps looking to flip Nortje over fine-leg, missed and had his stumps rattled. Two balls later, Sarel Erwee was bowled for a duck playing leaden-footed from the crease, followed the next ball by Temba Bavuma, again bowled as Nortje’s stunning over ended with a haul of 3-10.
Amla was looking good at the crease before he was trapped leg before off Nortje for 15 runs off 24 balls, leaving the Heat on 48-4 off 7.3 overs.
Khaya Zondo and skipper Albie Morkel then got stuck in, adding 71 in 8.5 overs before Morkel was bowled looking for a second consecutive six off Ferisco Adams. Morkel’s 45 came off 25 balls, with three fours and three sixes.
Zondo made full use of the opportunity to prove his credentials in pressure situations, scoring an undefeated 49 off 42 balls (two fours, two sixes, S/R 116.66), while Vernon Philander (16 not out, one six) added some punch at the end of the innings to see the Heat through to a defendable score of 157-5 off their 20 overs.
Nortje’s return of 4-32 was further indication of the 25-year-old paceman’s quality, while Malusi Siboto bowled with great guile to concede just 16 runs from his four overs (econ 4.00).
Janneman Malan got the Blitz brigade’s innings off to a good start, scoring 31 off 26 balls (five fours) to take his side to 50-1, but the loss of his wicket and Kyle Verreynne for six left the visitors on 51-3 in the ninth over.
Pakistan’s 27-year-old white-ball specialist Ali marked his debut in the MSL with an extraordinary innings, taking command of the run chase after the loss of countryman Muhammad Nawaz for just nine runs.
Ali batted with power and precision as he hammered 80 match-winning runs off just 33 balls at an incredible strike rate of 242.42. His innings included seven fours and five sixes to take the Blitz to the edge of victory at 143-6 with two and a half overs left to play.
Dropped catches and a couple of unwanted extras at critical moments cost the Heat dearly, including a no-ball by Kyle Abbott that took the Blitz through to their victory target, winning by three wickets with five balls in hand.
Keshav Maharaj offered superb value with the ball, returning 3-24 off his four overs (econ 6.00), while Marchant de Lange took 2-36.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images