PAARL – Anybody that still needs to be convinced that the Mzansi Super League is here to stay was not at Boland Park on a glorious Sunday afternoon.
Everything that has made T20 cricket the craze it is around the world was on display in abundance.
The spectacle rivalled anything the IPL, CPL – or any PL for that matter – could stage.
There were dancing girls, a rollicking DJ, hospitality suites, frolicking fans, and most importantly, a belter of Boland Park pitch that served up 405 thrilling runs on the day.
The only missing element was the fairytale finish, with the home team Paarl Rocks falling agonisingly one run short in pursuit of the Tshwane Spartans’ 203/5.
Requiring four runs off the final Andrew Birch delivery, Mangaliso Mosehle could only muster two runs down to deep midwicket.
Birch, though, had Dean Elgar to thank for taking the match down to the final ball, with the Proteas left-hander pulling off a miraculous goalkeeper save on the boundary to save a definite six during the final over.
All these theatrics came after the Spartans had earlier changed their batting line-up, with the inclusion of Proteas batsman Theunis de Bruyn for leg-spinner Shaun von Berg.
It reaped immediate reward for the visitors, with De Bruyn and fellow Proteas T20 batsman Gihahn Cloete posting a 101-run opening stand in just 10 overs.
De Bruyn was the chief aggressor in the partnership, with the right-hander blasting 66 off just 38 balls (9x4, 2x6).
De Bruyn’s departure, though, brought “Mr 360” AB de Villiers to the crease.
The Rocks faithful may have come to their see own superstar Dwayne Bravo make a solitary appearance before he leaves for Abu Dhabi on Monday, but they would not have begrudged De Villiers’ 18-ball cameo.
But the stadium erupted when Bravo had De Villiers caught on the boundary for 32, joining the Windies T20 legend in a rendition of his “Champion” dance.
Bravo was not finished yet, claiming Rilee Rossouw’s wicket to finish with 3/31.
It was left to Cloete to continue the pyrotechnics, with the left-hander finishing with a splendid 80 off 49 balls.
The highest total of the Mzansi Super League thus far was, though, in threat of being hunted down throughout the Rocks run-chase, especially when Cameron Delport was at the crease.
The T20 “gun-for-hire” showed his experience of playing in the many leagues around the world with a whirlwind 73 off 43 balls (4x4, 5x6).
But although there were cameos throughout the Rocks line-up, there was just nobody to take the game over the line for the home side.