Erwee‚ De Villiers and the weather star in franchise T20's opening round
Sarel Erwee’s century grabbed headlines in the first round of franchise T20 matches at the weekend‚ but what will stick in the memory is AB de Villiers hammering no less than Kagiso Rabada for consecutive sixes to secure victory.
Almost forgotten‚ already‚ are the hard-hit half-centuries Theunis de Bruyn and David Miller scored to win the opening game of the competition.
And there’s more good news to follow this week in the shape of Dale Steyn’s return from a year out of action because of a shoulder injury.
All of which makes exactly the kind of impact organisers would have hoped for in an event that was born as a dowdy second prize after plans to play the inaugural T20 Global League collapsed last month.
Even the weather played ball with a Highveld thunderstorm serving as a spectacular halftime show‚ and not getting in the way of the cricket too much‚ in a double-header in Centurion on Sunday.
Opener Erwee’s undefeated 103 off 58 balls and Khaya Zondo’s 67 not out — and their stand of 136 — guided the Dolphins to a tournament record total of 231/2 in the first game.
The Cobras couldn’t stop the bleeding despite their attack harbouring internationals Vernon Philander‚ Dane Paterson‚ Rory Kleinveldt and JP Duminy — who all went for more than 10 runs an over.
Hashim Amla‚ who saw the Cobras shamble to 20/3 inside four overs of their reply‚ scored a stylish 52 not out.
But that wasn’t enough to get his team to their revised target of 124 from 10 overs‚ and the Dolphins won by 15 runs.
De Villiers sent what became the last two balls of the Titans’ game against the Lions‚ which was reduced to 15 overs-a-side‚ arching into the still sparking night sky to seal an eight-wicket win.
One of those blows was delivered with a knee on the ground‚ a pose that would be suitable for the statue of De Villiers that will surely grace Centurion once De Villiers has retired.
All Rabada could do was crack a wry smile and nod his appreciation for a superb display of hitting by De Villiers‚ whose 50 not out flew off 19 balls‚ and Albie Morkel‚ who made his unbeaten 41 off 16 deliveries. Sixty of the 85 runs they shared were scored in sixes.
Reeza Hendricks’ 67 not out for the Lions looked pedestrian by comparison‚ but it had to be: opener Hendricks’ side lost their first two wickets before they had scored a single run.
That was also Morkel’s doing. He dismissed Rassie van der Dussen and Mangaliso Mosehle in the first four balls of the match and finished with 3/12.
It was all quite different from Friday’s events at St George’s Park‚ where the Knights needed their steeds to break into barely a canter to race past the Warriors by eight wickets.
The home side crashed to 69/5 before recovering to 153/9 with the help of Christiaan Jonker’s 61.
But De Bruyn and Miller made light of all that with an unbroken stand of 142 to clinch victory with a dozen balls to spare.
De Bruyn’s 78 not out came off 48 balls and featured three fours and six sixes.
Miller hit his unbeaten 62 off 47 balls with seven fours and three sixes.
The Knights might have a tougher job on their hands in Kimberley on Wednesday‚ when Steyn is expected to be part of the Titans XI.