JOHANNESBURG – The weather and a dubious umpiring decision cost the Spartans the chance of starting a four-game home run on a positive note against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at Centurion yesterday.
A fairly gentle storm put paid to the Spartans’ chase at the start of the sixth over, right at the fall of AB de Villiers’ wicket. The Spartans captain however was the victim of what appeared a poor decision by umpire Bongani Jele, given out lbw as he attempted to sweep the left-arm medium pacer Carmi le Roux’s first ball. De Villiers was outside the off-stump as he attempted the shot, the ball striking him on the front leg and appearing to be going passed off-stump.
Had the decision not gone the bowler’s way, the Spartans would have tied the game, as they needed to be on 35 with two wickets down. As it was, they scored 35/3 (5.1 overs, target 43).
“The weather gods were certainly with us,” Giants opener Marco Marais said afterwards.
Marais described the pitch as being two-paced and that the Giants felt a total in region of 160 would be defendable. As it was they ended up short of that, making 143/9, but through good fortune earned a third win in the competition.
Earlier when the sun still shone brightly the Giants started rapidly after De Villiers chose to field, hammering 36 runs off the first four overs. Jon-Jon Smuts was looking set for another punishing performance until he picked out Sean Williams on the deep midwicket boundary to be dismissed for 19.
Bowler Corbin Bosch had only just been drafted into the Spartans a few days earlier as the replacement for the injured Lungi Ngidi, and the performance that followed from him was all the more remarkable given he hasn’t played a competitive match - at any level - since breaking his foot eight months ago.
He varied pace and length cleverly and accurately to give the home team a measure of control from the latter stages of the power play onwards.
Bosch set the tone and the Spartans would grab wickets at regular intervals. Marais had to rein in his aggression to hold the Giants innings together but it was only when Rudi Second arrived at the crease at the fall of the fourth wicket that the visitors were able to put on a reasonable partnership.
They shared a stand of 42 for the fifth wicket but it needed to be more. Marais was bowled by the impressive young fast bowler Lutho Sipamla after top scoring with 47 (41b, 5x4, 1x6) and in the next over Sri Lankan import Jeevan Mendis bowled Second for 26 off the inside edge as the right hander attempted to sweep.
It was a procession of Giants batsmen thereafter with Mendis finishing with 4/22, while Sipamla continued his impressive progress finishing with 3/29.@shockerhess