SA20: Sunrisers Eastern Cape Keep Their Nerve to Beat MI Cape Town In Thriller

The Sunrisers Eastern Cape gave their SA20 playoff hopes a massive boost when they beat MI Cape Town by four runs after a thrilling match at St George's Park.

SA20: Sunrisers Eastern Cape Keep Their Nerve to Beat MI Cape Town In Thriller
John Goliath

Written by: John Goliath

(Senior Sports Writer and Editor)

Reviewed by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2024-01-27

The Sunrisers Eastern Cape gave their SA20 playoff ambitions a massive boost when they beat MI Cape Town by four runs after a thrilling match at St George's Park in Gqeberha on Saturday.

The Sunrisers bounced back from mid-week heartache when they went down to the Pretoria Capitals by three runs in another very close game. But this time they managed to get over the line thanks to very good all-round display.

Half-centuries from Tom Abell (60 off 44 balls) and captain Aiden Markram (54 off 32 balls) got the Sunrisers to a competitive 175/6 in their 20 overs.

MI Cape Town were never really out of the game, but also a lack of partnerships with the bat was their biggest problem. But they were still in the match in the last over after George Linde walked to the wicket to face the start of the 20th over.

The all-rounder hit a six and four off Dan Worral's first two balls in the over, but unfortunately they just couldn't get one more boundary to try get to the target.

The win has allowed the third-placed Sunrisers to move closer to the top two in the SA20 standings. The Sunrisers have moved to 19 points, three behind the second-placed Paarl Royals and four behind leaders Durban Super Giants.

But, most importantly, they have put some daylight between them and MI Cape Town, who are currently 10 points behind the Sunrisers in fourth position.

Only the top four teams go into the SA20 playoffs.

Two of the Sunrisers' final three matches is home and away against the Paarl Royals, which could have a huge bearing at top of the table. The other match is against the struggling Joburg Super Kings.

"The Royals are very good team playing good cricket, but so are we," said left-arm spinner Liam Dawson.

"There is a lot of fight in our change room. Obviously when you win it makes it a lot easier, but we have three huge games left in Johannesburg and Paarl."

The defeat is going to sting for MI Cape Town, having lost quite a few close games so far this season. The fact they are 15 points behind the leaders Super Giants is testimony of struggles of late after a decent start too the campaign.

For coach Robin Peterson, the defeat is tough to swallow. He bemoaned their lack of desire on the day against a spirited Sunrisers outfit, who ran 20 twos. MI Cape Town ran two only four times.

"I think Sunrisers were a little bit hungrier than we were today. The way they ran between the wickets with bat in hand, that got them the extra 10 to 15 runs," Peterson said.

"Fortunately, this campaign is still within our hands. We will have to do a little soul searching and find something within. There is a lot of expectations on us and the players. We have got the talent, bit it's about summoning up the will."

 

Abell shows his worth to the Sunrisers' hierarchy 

Abell was bizarrely left out out of the Sunrisers' match against the Capitals, even though he has been their most consistent batsman so far this season.

Abell scored his second half-century at St George's Park, with his knock building the platform for the Sunrisers' big hitters to have a go at the end of the innings.

The pitch wasn't really a batting paradise, and Abell paced his innings beautifully, and struck up good partnerships with Dawid Malan and Markram.

"It was a bit slow the wicket, and we said anywhere around 160 and we're in the game. At 175, we were pretty happy with it. It got a bit harder to bat," said Dawson.

"If we look at the competition so far, we have batted really well as a group. The game against Pretoria we had a little bit of a blip, but the way the boys responded today was exceptional.

"Tom Abell played one of the best innings I've seen on a fairly slow pitch, and he was well supported by Markram and (Tristan) Stubbs."

Markram and Stubbs put their foot on the gas

More good news for the Sunrisers is the return to form of their talismanic captain Aiden Markram, who produced his best effort of the campaign against MI Cape Town on Saturday.

Markram and Abell shared a 63-run partnership of 35 balls, before he and Stubbs contributed 42 of just 25 balls for the fourth wicket.

Markram and Stubbs (23 off 13 balls) provided the fireworks at the end of the innings, but it could have been worse for MI Cape Town had seamers Nuwan Thushara (2/32) and Kagiso Rabada (2/26) not managed to pull it back in the last couple of overs.

 

Sunrisers get the dangerous Rickelton and Van der Dussen early

MI Cape Town openers Ryan Rickleton and Rassie van der Dussen have gone a bit quite after a terrific start to the tournament. And their dip in form has coincided with their team's struggles with the bat, especially chasing scores.

And the Cape side were on the back foot once again after Van der Dussen was run-out by a brilliant direct hit from Abell, who picked up and threw the stumps down smartly from mid-wicket.

Rickelton and the Liam Livingstone began to repair the damage and shared a 33-runs stand before Marco Jansen claimed the prize wicket of Rickelton, caught by Liam Dawson at mid-on.

"The wickets of Rickelton and (Sam) Curran was very important, but we knew that a new batter coming in on that wicket would find it difficult to start," said Dawson.

MI Cape Town need to sort out middle-order ... and fast

While the Sunrisers had two half-century stands, along with Markram and Stubbs' effort, MI Cape Town didn't have a single partnership over 40.

There were a lot of starts in their innings, with Livingstone (26), Sam Curran (30), Kieron Pollard (30) and Dewald Brevis (26) all getting going and looking comfortable until they lost their wicket at crucial times.

MI Cape Town need to find some runs and partnership in the middle-order to have any chance of making the playoffs and beyond.

Ottniel Baartman (2/24) was again the shining light with the ball for the Sunrisers, as he produced a wonderful penultimate over to give Worral soimething to bowl at. 

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John Goliath

John Goliath

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.

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