CENTURION – This was a dreadful game between the Tshwane Spartans and Paarl Rocks.
Even that awful theme tune for this Mzansi Super League (DJ Fresh has a lot to answer for) was better than this encounter that the Spartans won by four wickets at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
Not that the Spartans will care. Having won just two matches before this, they desperately needed a positive result here.
They should have added the bonus point, but for now, they’ll be happy with the win as it keeps them in contention for the playoffs.
The quality of the match wasn’t helped by the pitch, which was really inadequate for the purposes of T20 cricket.
It was slow, the bounce was inconsistent and it didn’t benefit strokeplay.
It’s becoming a worrying trend here at this venue, which has traditionally been hard and quick.
Last season the Proteas were particularly unhappy about the surface prepared for the Test against Indiam and with the marquee Boxing Day Test set to be hosted at Centurion in a few weeks, there’ll be a few concerns about what to expect for that occasion.
On Wednesday it proved frustrating for the batsmen, but there were also a number of very poor shots, with players refusing to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate for the inadequate surface.
Too many remained determined to hit ‘big’ and were out caught in the deep, while others – most notably the Spartans’ big-name overseas signing Eoin Morgan – tried extravagance when a more subtle, even simple approach was required.
Among the visiting Rocks, skipper Faf du Plessis’ 38 was the top score. It came relatively quickly too; 19 balls, with five fours and two sixes, but his team were bowled out for just 121.
Some of the Spartans’ bowling was poor, especially overseas pro Jeevan Mendis, who struggled with his length initially.
The Sri Lankan, the competition’s leading wicket-taker, conceded 35 runs in 3.4 overs, including three sixes.
The best of the home side’s bowlers were rookie Lutho Sipamla (3/19) and leg-spinner Shaun von Berg (3/27).
RESULT: And breathe.— Tshwane Spartans (@SpartansMSLT20) December 5, 2018
A little closer than we would've liked but Frylinck (22*) hits the winning runs and the Spartans secure victory by 4 wickets with 3 balls to spare. #TSvPR #MSLT20 #BornOfUs #VanOns #TsaRona pic.twitter.com/Hm02QcKWl8
The Spartans were seemingly cruising towards a win with a bonus point, having reached 60/1 in the 10th over, but then they lost four wickets for 19 runs off 22 balls. The bonus point was out of the question thereafter.
Robbie Frylinck and Tony de Zorzi scrapped away to reduce the target to just two big blows by the time Dane Paterson started the last over, and Frylinck duly delivered, smashing two straight drives, one going for six and the other four, to ease the tension that had fallen over the ground.
He finished not out on 22 as the home side reached 122/6 off 19.3 overs.
Tabraiz Shamsi was the best of the Rocks bowlers, picking up 3/18 in four overs.@shockerhess