Grant Thompson helped his team to big. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Jozi Stars 170/6

Paarl Rocks 172/4

The Rocks won by six wickets

Grant Thomson, playing just his fourth match in the Mzansi Super League, was the hero for the Paarl Rocks here Sunday, with a cleverly constructed half-century that kept alive the Rocks’ hopes of qualifying for the competition’s play-offs.

Thomson has often existed on the periphery of the local franchise system whether at the Highveld Lions or more lately at the Titans. He’s always been a powerful striker of the ball and given the opportunity here - in place of Vaughn van Jaarsveld  he produced a crucial and timely  as the Rocks halted the Stars’ winning streak at four.

The local team, playing in front of a very disappointing crowd here of just 3684, put up what looked a reasonable total, but not one that was beyond the Rocks’ ability to chase even with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier opening the bowling for the Stars.

After being sent into bat by Faf du Plessis, the early loss of the in-form Reeza Hendricks and the potentially explosive Chris Gayle meant the Stars couldn’t take advantage of the power play. Gayle had blasted one terrific six towards the golf course and having woken up the miniscule crowd it looked like he was set to make the day his.

However a spectacular one handed grab by David Wiese at cover - he actually caught the ball behind him  ended the big Jamaican’s stay at the crease, and in all likelihood cost the Stars an extra 20 runs in the power play.

Rassie van der Dussen and Stars captain Dane Vilas had to bat with more care as a result as they sought to build a foundation. The pair added 73 for the third wicket, with Van der Dussen dominant. His backfoot play has long been the hallmark of his game but in the last few years its been his driving that is such a feature of his play. One cover drive for six off Dwayne Bravo in the last over, that barely got off the ground brought gasps from those in attendance.

He finished not out on 83 (55b, 6x4, 4x6) with a 41-run sixth stand with Dwaine Pretorius edging them towards what looked a defendable total, but one that Van der Dussen afterwards admitted was about 15 runs light.

Tabraiz Shamsi was outstanding again for the Rocks claiming 1/19 in four overs, while the lanky Kerwin Mungroo was impactful removing both Gayle and Hendricks early on and finishing with 3/29 in four overs.

The Rocks started shakily as well losing Aiden Markram and Cameron Delport inside the power play off of consecutive deliveries from Olivier.

But a match-winning partnership of 120 for the third wicket between Thomson and Du Plessis turned the match decisively towards the visitors. The pair took great care to see off Rabada and Olivier - who was bowling rapidly at times  before getting stuck into Dwaine Pretorius, Dan Christian and Nono Pongolo. That trio all conceded runs at a rate above 10 an over.

Du Plessis’ mastered the Stars bowling, taking advantage with the slower medium pacers dropped short by pulling them with ease and then driving powerfully when they atoned by pitching the ball up.

Thomson followed suit and together the duo struck 12 fours and three sixes in a stand that came off 80 balls. The 30 year old struck the winning runs off the third ball of the last over, finishing on an unbeaten 71 off 55 balls with five fours and a six.

There were a couple of butterflies for the Rocks when Du Plessis was dismissed for 61 (34b, 7x4, 2x6) and a few balls later Patrick Kruger for 1. Vilas dropped a relatively simple chance offered by DWayne Bravo on 1, which proved critical as the West Indies all-rounder slammed back-to-back sixes off Pretorius in the penultimate over to ease the visiting team’s tension.

The Rocks’ win also meant the Cape Town Blitz finished top of the log and would thus host the final at Newlands on December 16.     


IOL Sport

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