JOHANNESBURG – Wednesday’s match at Boland Park looms large for the Paarl Rocks and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, as both make a push to finish in the top three of the Mzansi Super League.
The Rocks upset the Jozi Stars at the Wanderers yesterday, winning by six wickets with three balls to spare thanks mainly to a fine third wicket partnership of 120 between Faf du Plessis (61) and Grant Thomson (71*).
“Faf kept me calm throughout,” Thomson said afterwards. “Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier were bowling fairly quickly and in KG’s case, as one of the best in the world, it’s quite intimidating facing him, so we just wanted to get through that little period.”
Thereafter the pair thrived taking advantage against the Stars’ medium pacers to propel the Rocks into a position from which they achieved victory with relative comfort.
“Just for me to be part of this tournament is amazing, sharing a partnership like that with Faf, being on the field with 15 internationals, it’s hard to put into words,” said Thomson.
The Rocks and Giants, separated by three points on the log, face each other in what could be a virtual ‘quarter-final’ on Wednesday. “It’s still all to play for in front of our home crowd who’ve been unbelievable throughout the competition,” said Thomson.
The Stars’ final match is tomorrow against neighbours the Tshwane Spartans, who also have hopes of qualifying in the top three.
Rassie van der Dussen top scored with an unbeaten 83 for the Jozi side, who posted a useful 170/6, but Van der Dussen reckoned they were about 10 to 15 runs short of a winning score. “Losing two wickets up front made it difficult,” he said referring to early dismissals of Reeza Hendricks and Chris Gayle.
“Our recipe when batting is to set it up; in the games where we’ve scored 200, we were about 60 after 10 overs, but one wicket down, that’s the key. To lose two up front meant we couldn’t capitalise on the PowerPlay. At the Wanderers you’re looking for 45 to 50 (in the first six overs) and so we lost out on a few runs and that’s maybe where we were short a few runs at the end.”
Meanwhile, Gayle stated after the match that he would play no further part in the Mzansi Super League because of his mother’s funeral later this week.
“Although my mom passed away on the sixth of last month she’s not been laid to rest as other family members were not able to get home and they’re flying in this week. It’s not been easy to play cricket when you’ve lost your mom, who you’ve also been close to,” said Gayle.
“The game was a nice distraction for me, because had I been home it would have been worse, so meeting new team members, helped calm me. It’s going to be emotional when I go back.”
Gayle said he would be back in action in January and was looking forward to the IPL and possibly being selected for the West Indies for the World Cup in England.@shockerhess