Rassie Van der Dussen deserved a century, ultimately falling four runs short. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – In the last four overs of their innings it felt as if Dan Christian and Rassie van der Dussen were literally trying to hit the ball to the stars. 

It was the most astonishing batting seen in the Mzansi Super League and it propelled the Jozi Stars to Friday’s play-off game, which will be hosted here at the ‘Bullring.’ 

Following their defeat here last Sunday to the Paarl Rocks, Rassie van der Dussen said the Stars would concentrate on laying a proper foundation, and look to use their power towards the back end of the innings. It’s how they surpassed 200 on two previous occasions in the competition. 

That strategy worked, again. And even better than those two previous innings’ (against the Rocks in Paarl and the Heat here) and like in both those matches, it was Van der Dussen who led the way. 

The Stars’ 49/1 after the power play didn’t look particularly threatening, but for them having wickets in hand is the priority and given they’d extended their tail by dropping Dwaine Pretorius and including Beuran Hendricks for Tuesday’s match, taking care initially was important. 

After Reeza Hendricks fell in the power play, Van der Dussen and Ryan Rickelton added 53 runs for the second wicket in 4.2 overs, as the Stars rapidly went through the gears. After Rickelton’s departure for 45 (30b, 1x4, 3x6) and a sneaky cameo of 21 from Kagiso Rabada, promoted to no.4, the Stars really turned on the afterburners as Van der Dussen and Christian engaged in a six-hitting exhibition not seen here since a famous Sunday morning in February 2015 when the Proteas were clad in pink. 

They hammered some really hapless Spartans bowling, peppering the straight boundary particularly at Golf Course End with six after thumping six. Their partnership for the fourth wicket ended on 118, off only 47 balls with just two fours and 12 sixes. They hit 80 runs off the last four overs.

Van der Dussen deserved a century, ultimately falling four runs short, but his innings which came off 44 balls and included six fours and half a dozen sixes, will be remembered for a long time by the 5739 spectators who turned up here Tuesday night. Christian finished with 52 not out off 19 balls - the fastest half-century in the MSL - hitting six sixes as well.

For the Spartans to have any hope of pulling off an unlikely win AB de Villiers would have to repeat what he did here in pink for the Proteas in 2015.

That didn’t happen, his battle with Kagiso Rabada lasted one ball, when he carved the ball towards gully where Simon Harmer took a fine diving catch. 

The match could have petered out from there, but Nono Pongolo added to a memorable night with a stunning return of 6/20 to accelerate the Stars to victory. They are the second best figures by a South African in T20 cricket, only Phaphama Fojela playing for Border in the CSA Provincial T20 Challenge did better when he claimed 6/9 against Easterns in 2014.

The Spartans now need the Paarl Rocks to beat the Nelson Mandela Giants on Wednesday afternoon - but without a bonus point - to stand a chance of qualifying for the play-off match. If that happens, they need to beat the Durban Heat, later on Wednesday with a bonus point. 

That would leave all three teams are on 21 points and because Tshwane have more wins than the Giants and have beaten Paarl Rocks, they would be able to return to the Wanderers at the end of the week.

Results:

Jozi Stars 239/3

Tshwane Spartans 138

Stars won by 101 runs.

@shockerhess


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