The defending champions somehow managed to lose while being totally dominant
The Tshwane Spartans capitalised on a late batting meltdown by the defending champions, the Jozi Stars to snatch a 20-run victory where defeat looked almost a certainty in their latest Mzansi Super League (MSL) derby encounter at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg yesterday.
On a day that Chris Gayle finally delivered – the West Indian superstar plundered 54 off 27 balls (6x4s, 4x6s) – to set the defending champions up for what looked like a first win of the season as they eyed a 156-run victory target.
However, from 122/3 and only 34 required from 38 balls, they imploded spectacularly to be dismissed for 135.
It meant the last seven wickets fell for 13 runs with Morné Morkel the biggest benefactor, finishing with 3/21 in 3.3 overs.
Roelof van der Merwe claimed 2/11, while England paceman Tom Curran, who picked up the early wickets, recorded 3/30.
The result means that the Stars, the winners of the inaugural title last year, have now lost six out of six and are affectively already out of play-off contention.
For the Spartans, they are up to third on the table, and continue to show a vast improvement compared to last season where they finished second-bottom.
Like Gayle did for the Stars, it was a day when the other big superstar of MSL 2.0, AB de Villiers, delivered his first big performance of the season – the former Proteas captain striking 53 off 33 balls (4x4s, 2x6s).
But it was not all plain sailing for his side, who slipped to 47/4 after winning the toss and batting.
An Aaron Phangiso (2/32) double-pegged the Spartans back early with Theunis de Bruyn (0), Dean Elgar (18), Van der Merwe (5) and Heinrich Klaasen (10) all gone inside the first 10 overs.
But De Villiers and Pite van Biljon (45) rebuilt with a 63-run fifth-wicket stand that proved key in helping their side recover to 155/6.
Dan Christian finished as the pick of the bowlers with 2/30.
Curran then brilliantly cleaned up Reeza Hendricks for a first-over duck early in the reply, before Gayle and captain Temba Bavuma (35) sharing 64 in only 4.5 overs for the second wicket.
The momentum continued even after Gayle fell, with Rassie van der Dussen (20) helping his skipper keep up with the pace.
When they were together, even a bonus point looked on the cards as victory appeared a formality with seven overs to go.
However, the losing mentality that has currently clouded over the Stars’ camp appeared to kick in as the rest of their batsmen panicked and gifted Tshwane a second win of the season.