Tshwane Spartans keep their Mzansi Super League playoff dream alive

09 December 2018 - 10:55 By Alvin Reeves
Gihahn Cloete of Tshwane Spartans loses his wicket during the Mzansi Super League match between Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Tshwane Spartans at St Georges Park on December 8 2018 in Port Elizabeth.
Gihahn Cloete of Tshwane Spartans loses his wicket during the Mzansi Super League match between Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Tshwane Spartans at St Georges Park on December 8 2018 in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

Tshwane Spartans kept their playoff dream intact by beating Nelson Mandela Bay Giants by 28 runs in their Mzansi Super League cricket fixture at St George’s Park on Saturday evening.

And it was two regular Port Elizabeth “home boys” who made telling contributions to the Spartans’ effort.

First up‚ Gihahn Cloete made 65 in the visitors’ imposing total of 165 for four.

Then seamer Andrew Birch rocked the Giants with two quick wickets at the top of the order‚ including that of dangerman Jason Roy for a single.

That left the Giants on eight for two at the start of the third over‚ a position from which they struggled to recover.

Jon-Jon Smuts did make a promising 26‚ England international Ben Duckett top-scored with 47 and Sisanda Magala smashed 31 but their target proved a bridge too far as they managed only 137 for nine in reply.

Legspinner Shaun von Berg mopped up the middle to lower order to take three for 23.

The result saw the Spartans breathe more life into their campaign.

The Cape Town Blitz and Jozi Stars have already clinched their spots in the top three bracket and the Giants would have claimed the remaining berth had they had beaten the Spartans.

Instead‚ they may now have to beat the Rocks in Paarl on Wednesday depending on how other results go between now and then.

The Spartans know they just have to keep winning.

Earlier‚ Cloete underlined his worth as a top-order batsman in white ball cricket by making his third half-century of the tournament.

Returning with Birch to his regular Warriors stomping ground at St George’s Park‚ Cloete was severe on anything full as well as deliveries that were short and wide.

His 65‚ which came off 59 balls‚ formed the backbone of the Spartans’ total of 165 for four.

He shared in a second-wicket partnership of 72 with Dean Elgar‚ who clubbed an aggressive 32 which featured three sixes.

AB de Villiers came into the match on 156 runs at 22.28 per innings‚ well below his career average of almost 35.

He arrived at the crease with the total on 77 for two in the 10th over and survived a confident shout for leg before wicket off Imran Tahir when he had only four runs.

Television replays suggested Tahir had reason to be aggrieved when the umpire said not out.

He ended up making 33 but it was not the fluent kind of knock that people have come to expect whenever they see him play.

Englishman Eoin Morgan did what he does best at the end of an innings to score an unbeaten 20.

The much-vaunted Giants spin attack of Imran Tahir‚ Aaron Phangiso and Jon-Jon Smuts were not as penetrative or restricting as what they have been under home conditions.

Tahir picked up the only wicket between them dismissing Elgar in the 10th over.

Cloete was eventually bowled by Chris Morris having struck five fours and two sixes while Sisanda Magala collected the wicket of De Villiers with two balls remaining in the innings.

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