CAPE TOWN – Everything was set up for the fairytale ending.
Capetonians had come out in their thousands to see their team become the first side to lift the Mzansi Super League trophy in glorious sunshine at Newlands on Sunday.
Instead, they could only look on in shock as the Jozi Stars cruised to the inaugural championship by eight wickets.
The Stars were clinical in all departments, setting the tone with the ball by restricting Cape Town Blitz to just 113/7.
Then the tournament’s two leading run-scorers, Rassie van der Dussen (59 not out) and Reeza Hendricks (33), ate chunks out of the target without taking any major risks.
It was almost by accident when Hendricks held out to deep mid-wicket with just 14 runs required for victory.
But by then, the match and championship were long sewn up.
Throughout the MSL T20, the Blitz’ middle-order had been a concern. The team management insisted they would come good “in games that matter”.
But even in the game that mattered most, they floundered. Quinton de Kock had held the Blitz’ campaign together almost single-handedly.
The chance that the Proteas opener would fail at some point was always a danger, and it could not have come at a worst time for the Blitz than on Sunday.
It did require a special catch, though, from Hendricks, who turned and raced back before diving full length to take a brilliant two-hander.
It was a catch worthy of winning a final, and in all respects it virtually did, for the Blitz never recovered after losing De Kock early on for just five, with all the Stars bowlers maintaining the pressure on the home side’s brittle batting line-up.
Off-spinner Simon Harmer was excellent with the new ball, conceding just 14 runs off his four overs, with Kagiso Rabada (0/18) only slightly more expensive.
It was a stranglehold the Blitz could never break free from, allowing Duanne Olivier (2/32) and Beuran Hendricks (2/21) to strike from the other end.
Although Dale Steyn bowled his heart out for the Blitz in a rapid spell from the Wynberg End – in which he picked up the wicket of Ryan Rickleton in the process – that briefly gave the 11 000-strong crowd something to cheer about, he was never going to be able to do it on his own as the Stars romped to the first ever Mzansi Super League crown.