The Durban Heat on Saturday lost a nail-biting Mzansi Super League encounter with the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at St George’s Park by five wickets on the penultimate ball of the match.
The Durbanites set the hosts a target of 161 to win the clash, and did a good job strangling their run chase, leaving the Giants needing 31 with 15 delivering remaining.
The log-topping Giants kept their composure and two edges through the slip cordon from all-rounder Chris Morris secured the runs needed for a five wicket victory with one ball to spare.
While he was happy with the competitive performance, Heat skipper Dane Vilas said the rain-hampered campaign now left then facing a must-win situation in all of their remaining matches.
“With two overs to go I was feeling very confident, with the good death bowlers that we have, but it just shows you that you are never out of it in this game,” said Vilas.
He added that the audacious reverse sweep six by Heino Kuhn with seven balls remaining in the match had been a pivotal moment.
“Its been a bit frustrating with the weather because we haven’t been able to get any momentum,” said Vilas. “it’s our fifth game and we have only really played two.
“It is tough, and the two losses that have had have been really close,” he added.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat first the Heat top order struggled with the slow pace of the St George’s Park wicket.
Alex Hales gave an easy catch off the leading edge in the third over with the form batsman Wihan Lubbe departing three balls later without scoring.
Skipper Dane Vilas showed good intent before he miscued one off Jon Jon Smuts, leaving the visitors at 27 for three inside the powerplay.
Wesley Marshall got on top of the Giants attack, hitting two sixes in his 29 off 24 balls before he fell in leg spinner Imran Tahir’s first over.
The seasoned Dave Miller and Ravi Bopara steadied the ship for the Heat, taking them to 57/4 at the midway point in their innings, eventually adding a hundred run partnership before Miller was given out gloving a legside delivery to the keeper for a well player 45 off 36 balls.
Bopara went on to wrap up his half century, finishing the innings unbeaten on 57 off 43 deliveries, and helping the Heat to 160 for five wickets at the end of their twenty overs.
The Giants started the run chase cautiously and got past sixty by the halfway point of their innings before the lost the wicket of Jason Roy, run out by a superb throw from Alex Hales.
Fellow opener Matthew Breetzke was next to go, superbly caught by a diving Wesley Marshall in the deep for 25.
Jon Jon Smuts and Marco Marais kept the home side in touch with the required run rate as the Heat looked to be taking control of the match at the death.
Kuhn’s six was followed by 22 of ten deliveries for Chris Morris to seal the win for the Giants, who remain top of the Mzansi Super League log.
Mzansi Super League Match 14
St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
Durban Heat 160/5 (Bopara 57, Miller 45, Burger 2/24)
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants (163/5 Roy 50, Smuts 33, Morris 22, Maharaj 1/17)
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants win by 5 wickets
Photo: Ravi Bopara. (Deryck Foster/Back Page Pix)