Cameron Delport of Paarl Rocks runs for safety as David Wiese of Tshwane Spartans stumps him in the Mzansi Super League 2.0 final game played at at Boland Cricket Stadium. Photograph; Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – Faf du Plessis promised throughout the Mzansi Super League that the Paarl Rocks had yet to play their “perfect” game. Well, they kept it for when it mattered most in a thoroughly one-sided final at Boland Park yesterday.

Bar one dropped catch, it was a clinical performance that saw the Rocks win by eight wickets to be crowned 2019 Mzansi Super League champions in front of their expectant capacity home crowd. And let’s not take the “Purple Army” for granted. They came out in their thousands, fully decked out in purple, and cheered on every stop in the field, every single turned into a two, and went absolutely ballistic when the ball went for a boundary or if a Tshwane Spartans wicket fell.

If ever the proverbial “12th man” counted for anything, the Rocks faithful showed how it should be done.

Du Plessis’ team were certainly inspired by the home support. They delivered a masterclass with the ball before following it up with some inventive strokeplay, particularly from local boy Henry Davids. Their ability to read the conditions quickly proved the difference on the day. Tabraiz Shamsi has been sensational for the Rocks throughout the tournament and delivered yet another superb performance with figures of 2/29. It should have been three scalps for the left-arm wrist-spinner, but Sibonelo Makhanya spilled a regulation chance on the deep mid-wicket boundary to gift AB de Villiers another chance.

Fortunately for the Rocks it was not overly generous with De Villiers only adding a further nine runs before falling for 51. It was the Spartans’ only punch they threw all day. That was in complete contrast to when the Rocks went out to bat. Instead of looking to take the game deep and haul in the meagre total at the backend, the Rocks went hard from the outset.

Paarl Rocks celebrates after Isuru Unada is bowled out Tony de Zozi Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League 2.0 final game played at at Boland Cricket Stadium. Photograph; Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

And none more so than Davids. Born and raised just 20 minutes from the ground, and having played all of his formative cricket down in the Winelands, the 39-year-old turned on the magic for his family, friends and local community. The stylish right-hander ensured that what could have been a nervous run-chase turned into a cake walk. The Rocks motored to 72/0 in the powerplay, with Davids smashing 56 of those runs.

If the Spartans had any fight left within them, that was surely the knockout blow that took out their wind. The visitors certainly looked rattled after that explosive powerplay as they dropped a couple of chances that might have brought them back into the game. Even the loss of Cameron Delport (18) could not deter the Rocks as it only opened the floodgates even further. Dwaine Pretorius celebrated his Proteas Test call-up early in the run-chase with a blitzkrieg 43 off 21 balls and the Rocks were nearly home.

But like a good fairy tale, it was left to Davids (77 not out off 44 balls) and captain Du Plessis to be there at the end when the winning runs were hit. It was almost ironic that Du Plessis was dropped on the final run, summing up what a horrible night it was for the men from Tshwane.

In contrast, the quaint town of Paarl will rock on for a long time to come as they remember one of the famous nights this picturesque ground has ever witnessed.

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Tshwane Spartans: 147/6 (De Villiers 51, Udana 2/24, Shamzi 2/29, Mungaroo 1/21

Paarl Rocks: 148/2 (Davids 77*, Pretorius 43, Manack 1/18)

Paarl Rocks won by 8 wickets



Cape Times

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