Match Report

Paarl Royals Secure 27-Run Win Over Pretoria Capitals in SA20 League Thriller

Andile Phehlukwayo helped the Paarl Royals to a 27-run victory over the Pretoria Capitals in the SA20 League. He scored 28 runs off 14 balls and took two wickets. The Royals won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 160. The Capitals were then restricted to 133.

John Goliath
John Goliath

Last Updated: 2024-01-22

Dillip Mohanty

Andile Phehlukwayo produced a top all-round performance to help the Paarl Royals see off the Pretoria Capitals by 27 runs in their SA20 League match at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday night.

Phehlukwayo played a brilliant cameo with the bat at the end of the Royal’s innings to help his team to a tricky 160 score against their Pretoria rivals.

The Proteas man also took two wickets with the ball, including the big scalp of Capitals opener Phil Salt, to give the Winelands team an opening win in their first match of the campaign after the visitors could only manage 133/7.

The Royals played the conditions a lot better than the Capitals, who also suffered defeat in Paarl in the previous season. The conditions are vastly different to what they experience at SuperSport Park in Centurion on the highveld, where the pitch normally gets better for batting in T20 matches.

The Winelands venue, however, is quite the opposite, with the pitch normally slowing up as the match progresses.

“The experience of the warm-up games and the privilege of batting on the surface definitely helped to understand what the conditions were doing,” said Phehlukwayo.

Capitals won the toss and went against the Boland Park trend

That’s why it came as quite a surprise when the Pretoria side won the toss and decided to have a bowl. Traditionally, because of the extreme heat and the wind, the playing surface is slow in nature and normally a bat-first surface.

It seemed like an odd choice especially when Royals wicket-keeper Jos Buttler and opening partner Jason Roy were going great guns at the start of their innings.

The pair raced to a partnership of 42, before Roy was bowled by Jimmy Neesham.

“The decision to bowl first, obviously statistics tells you that it’s easier to chase. I think it was the right decision. 156 is a par score here,” said Capitals assistant coach Dale Benkenstein, trying to justify the team’s decision.

Capitals put the brakes on with quick wickets

There was some bounce in the wicket, albeit a bit two-paced. The Capitals’ Daryn Dupavillon found some extra bounce when he bent his back, and got rewarded with the big wicket of Buttler two runs after Roy departed.

Left-hander Wihan Lubbe contributed 11 to the scoreboard before he lost his wicket, also to a shortish delivery that was mis-timed.

However, captain David Miller and Micthell van Buuren got the Royals’ innings back on track with a key 61-run stand.

Proteas all-rounder gets Royals to above par score

Miller was the star of the homeside’s innings with a 41 off 33 balls, which included four boundaries. But the Proteas star lost his wicket with two overs to go with the score on 137/6, which put pressure on the lower order to come to the party.

And come to the party they did, with Phehlukwayo scoring a match-defining cameo of 28 runs from 14 balls, which included four boundaries and a massive six.

This allowed the Royals to get to 160, which is slightly above par at this venue.

Phehlukwayo has been a regular contributor when given game time for the Proteas, although he hasn’t played as much as what he wanted to over the last few years.

Part of the reason why he has been overlooked has been his inconsistency. However, patience seems to be a virtue for the KwaZulu-Natal born player.

“I think I’m giving myself some more time (at the crease), trying to keep it simple and backing myself,” said Phehlukwayo.

“Batting opportunities are important and to try and develop my game for the conditions. I’m not a youngster anymore and I need to actually understand that I need to execute my skills.”

Salt quickly adds spice to Capitals chase, but Ngidi strikes early

The chase was always going to be a tricky one, but the Capitals would have been confident chasing the target with last season’s stars Phil Salt and Will Jacks facing the new ball.

Salt, fresh off a couple of T20 centuries during England’s tour of the West Indies picked up where he left off in last season’s competition and took down Royals spinner Bjorn Fortuin for 14 runs in the first over.

However, Lungi Ngidi got Jacks out for five in the very next over, before West Indian left-arm quick Obed McCoy picked up the wicket of Theunis de Bruyn for the same score.

Salt was joined by Rilee Rossouw and the two hard-hitting batsmen managed to string together a partnership, which swung the momentum in the favour of the Capitals.

Royals put on the squeeze in the middle overs

However, the scoring rate started to slow down, as the ball became softer. But the home side, who had played a couple of warm-up matches on the ground before their opener, knew just where to bowl the ball to restrict the scoring.

“Paarl stuck to their lengths and they never really took the middle of the pitch out of play,” said Benkenstein.

“We probably went a bit full now and then.”

Ngidi and McCaoy were outstanding in this regard, but it was the Proteas duo of wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and Phehlukwayo who turned the game on its head.

Phehlukwayo got the wicket of Rossouw, while Shamsi trapped Salt LBW. All this happened in the space of nine balls.

The required run-rate then got out of hand, and it was always going to be tough for the Capitals to chase down 160 when the rate climbed over the 13, 14-run mark on this surface.

“Momentum is an important thing. They had a good partnership between Rilee and Salt, which was quite important for them,” said Phehlukwayo.

“We got a wicket at that time and that’s where we tried to put more pressure on them. There are always ups and downs, but it’s about seeing who breaks first and pouncing on that.”

John Goliath
John GoliathSenior Sports Writer and Editor

John Goliath is a copywriter and editor with 20 years' experience in the sports media industry. John, a Tottenham Hotspur tragic, studied journalism in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and has worked for two of the biggest media houses in South Africa.