Match Report

SA20: Paarl Royals too good for struggling Joburg Super Giants

The Paarl Royals put one foot in the 2024 SA20 League playoffs when they dug deep to beat the Joburg Super Kings by five wickets at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

John Goliath
John Goliath

Last Updated: 2024-01-24

Dillip Mohanty

The Paarl Royals put one foot in the 2024 SA20 League playoffs when they dug deep to beat the Joburg Super Kings by five wickets at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.

All-rounder Fabian Allen hit a massive six off the first ball of the last over to surpass the Super Kings' effort of 168/3 to cement the Royals' position at the top of the standings.

The Paarl SA20 team now have 22 points after six matches following only their second win on the Highveld in the competition's short history.

The Royals have been very dependent on their big-name batsmen Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and David Miller during the first five matches, but at the Wanderers it was was the duo of Wihan Lubbe and Dane Vilas who got the team close before Allen's little cameo.

Lubbe (57 off 48 balls) and Vilas (42 off 28 balls) shared a 94-run partnership after Buttler and Roy lost their wickets early, along with Mitchell van Buuren.

The Super Kings are in real trouble after the defeat. They remain second from bottom on six points with only one win and a no-result from their six matches.

They would have been very happy with their 168/3 after a sluggish start at the start of their innings. Reeza Hendricks (79 off 56) played a brilliant knock, as he was cautious at the start before laying into the bowling towards the end.

The Paarl Royals now face the second-placed Durban Super Giants (18 points) in Paarl on Friday, hoping to keep the top position in the standings.

The Royals are probably one or two more wins away from qualifying in the top two spots, which is an easier route to the final.

They certainly have the momentum on their side, and the team seem to be enjoying themselves on and off the field.

“We have got good guys in the changeroom. It does help winning, but we are enjoying each other’s company off the field.

“Being in a good position helps a lot and we want to keep this momentum going.”

Fortuin with an unbelievable opening spell

The wily Bjorn Fortuin bowled one of the great opening spells in T20 cricket at the “Bullring” as far as runs conceded is concerned to curb the Super Giants at the start of their innings.

The left-arm spinner, bowling at his domestic home ground, bowled a maiden over to Faf du Plessis to start the match. His three overs in the power play went for just five runs, sending down 14 dot balls.

Du Plessis, who has been out of sorts during the tournament, struggled to get the ball off the square against Fortuin, as the pitch looked a bit tacky at the start. But he did hit a couple of fours off Lungi Ngidi at the other end.

However, Ngidi had the last laugh when he got rid of the veteran batter, bowling him with a ball that dipped and cut off the pitch.

Reeza Hendricks shows his class to give Super Kings fighting chance

Hendricks, who had also been struggling for form, anchored the innings after the loss of Du Plessis. He was cautious at the beginning, but when the pitch started playing better as the ball got softer he started to cash in.

Hendricks (79 off 56 balls) shared a 39-runs stand with Leus du Plooy (30 off 16 balls), the latter giving the Super Kings’ effort much-needed impetus.

Moeen Ali’s 23 off 12 balls, together with Hendricks’ effort, then got the Joburg team to a total they thought was a winning one.

“I thought we had enough runs on the board. It was very tricky at the start. You could see the way the ball was behaving, that it was going to be a tough 20 overs,” said Super Giants coach Stephen Fleming.

“We did well to navigate the early stage and then get a score I thought was above par. It’s difficult to read the conditions, last week it was flying through and now it’s turning.”

Royals lose Roy as Super Kings start magnificently with the ball

Super Kings seamers Lizaad Williams and Nandre Burger got some swing and seam movement early on.

Wiliams, one of the top wicket takers in the tournament, got the breakthrough when he got rid of the dangerous Jason Roy (8).

Burger was almost unplayable, as he beat the bat on numerous occasions. Lubbe, though, survived that spell of bowling which proved key for the Royals after Ali got the key wicket of Buttler.

“It definitely felt like the harder seam was holding in the wicket a little bit more. A dry wicket is something we didn’t expect and I think it definitely played a role,” said Lubbe about their difficult start.

“We knew it would get easier as the ball got older as the night continued. I think that was evident in that little partnership between Dane and I.”

Vilas doesn’t show signs of rust after replacing Miller

With the Royals having to chase at about 10 runs to the over for from the time he got in, Vilas didn’t have time to have a look in his first match in the tournament after coming in for the injured Miller.

He was his normal busy self, as he and Lubbe ran the Super Kings ragged with a plethora of twos. But they also put the bad ball away when it was presented to them.

Their 94-stand set the platform for an assault in the last five overs, and they hit a few big overs off Williams and Ali to set the platform.

Lubbe lost his wicket to veteran spinner Imran Tahir for a match-winning half-century, before Vilas ran himself out in the penultimate over. But by then the pair had done enough to put the Royals on the brink of victory.

“A lot of credit has to go to Dane. The intensity he came out with and the conversations we had in the middle. His calming presence helped me a lot,” said Lubbe.

“We were fortunate enough that the wicket (of Buttler) fell on the strategy break. The conversations we had - having a few heads around makes it nice and clear as to how we would go about the next couple of overs.

“The aim was to have a high intensity over the next period, never letting the run-rate get too far away. We didn’t want the run-rate to get to 15s.”

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.