CENTURION – For many of those who turned up at SuperSport Park on Wednesday afternoon, the main attraction was AB de Villiers.
Well, they got a bit of AB, but they got so much more of Dean Elgar, and it was just as worthwhile as he spearheaded the Tshwane Spartans’ 187-run chase to secure a four-wicket victory over Jozi Stars.
Elgar has long been angered by suggestions that he is a red-ball specialist.
He’s demanded an opportunity to show he can play the limited-overs formats, but at international level, those have rarely been granted.
He played a couple of ODIs for the Proteas against Zimbabwe earlier this summer, but on less than desirable pitches, he struggled – like all the batsmen.
So, given a chance here to open for the Spartans in a key match against their provincial neighbours, Elgar was keen to cash in and make a point.
It was a typical Elgar innings in that there were some ugly shots, some pretty lofted drives against the spinners, and he was struck a couple of body blows by the Stars’ Australian import Dan Christian.
Elgar has stated many times that pain helps him to focus, and that’s precisely what he showed in carving out a glorious unbeaten 79, that came off only 52 balls, and included five fours and four sixes.
It was a cleverly constructed innings, that saw lots of hard running between the wickets, and then when the opportunities offered themselves – or even when he created them – he sought out the boundary with plenty of purpose.
The key partnership in the Spartans innings came between Elgar and his skipper De Villiers.
The hosts had lost wickets off consecutive balls to Simon Harmer’s off-spin, the second of those saw Theunis de Bruyn bowled by one that shot out of the rough and crashed into his stumps.
Both batsmen had to put whatever concerns that may have caused them out of their minds, and utilising all their experience, they added 68 for the fourth wicket.
De Villiers produced some typically sparkling strokeplay; one back-to-back sequence saw him late-cut Dwaine Pretorius for four, followed by a delicious paddle sweep that flew over fine leg for six.
Just when it looked like he would take the Spartans home, he held out to long-off for 39 (21 balls, 2x4, 3x6), leaving Elgar to anchor the chase as they finished on 188/6 off 19.3 overs.
The winning runs came off the outside edge of Sean Williams’ bat with three balls to spare, giving the Spartans a crucial win after they’d lost three of their first four matches.
Kagiso Rabada struggled once more. He bowled a brilliant yorker to dismiss Gihahn Cloete in his first over, but when his team needed him at the ‘death’, he let them down, conceding 24 runs off his last two overs.
Earlier, a Reeza Hendricks half-century anchored the Stars’ innings of 186/5, with the opener making 55 off 48 balls (7x4, 1x6) that included some delightful drives.
The innings finished well with Stars captain Dane Vilas (25) and Pite van Biljon sharing a partnership of 71 for the fifth wicket off only 30 balls, to see the Stars sail passed the 180 mark.
Van Biljon made 42 off only 13 balls, smashing three fours and four sixes.
RESULT: It's gone down to the wire but @sean14williams punches a four and hits the winning runs as the Spartans secure victory by 4 wickets with 3 balls remaining.— Tshwane Spartans (@SpartansMSLT20) November 28, 2018
No question of our man of the match. @deanelgar (79*) with his highest T20 score. #BornOfUs #VanOns #TsaRona pic.twitter.com/xdce21DtZ5