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Cricket | Mzansi Super League 2018

Lutho Sipamla © Gallo Images

Spartans edge thriller in Centurion

They made it difficult for themselves, but the Tshwane Spartans managed to seal a four-wicket victory with three balls remaining against the Paarl Rocks in Centurion on Wednesday afternoon, to keep their playoff hopes alive in the Mzansi Super League.

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The balance of the match ebbed and flowed in the second innings, but the Rocks must've felt that victory was in their sights when they Spartans still needed 11 off the final over.

However, Robbie Frylinck's six and four to begin the last over dashed the visitors' hopes and handed the Spartans their third victory of the campaign.

The Spartans remain in fifth spot behind their opponents, courtesy of having less bonus points, but they've now brought themselves into playoffs contention, with three big games remaining for both sides.

The Spartans were overwhelming favourites after they bowled the Rocks out for a paltry 121. Big wickets up front, including openers Aiden Markram and Cameron Delport for one and two respectively, followed by a flurry of wickets at the end proved the visitors' downfall.

The Spartans have Lutho Sipamla to thank for giving them a good start.

He was superb with the new ball and finished strongly too, to end with figures of 3-19.

The spin duo of Jeevan Mendis and Shaun von Berg then did the rest of the damage, both taking two wickets in the space of three balls.

Mendis now has 15 wickets to his name, three more than Sipamla, for the pair to head up the wicket-taking charts in the tournament.

The Spartans looked good value for an easy chase, after Gihahn Cloete and Dean Elgar combined to smash 15 runs in the third over.

Their partnership reached 30 before Elgar was needlessly run out. Strike-rate pressure got to him as he failed to steal a quick single to depart for just six off 15 balls.

Another useful partnership then followed, this time between Cloete and Andrea Agathangelou, as the pair manufactured 33 to leave their side needing a regulation 58 off the final 10 overs.

But then came the double blow to keep the Rocks interested. Tabraiz Shamsi (3-18) saw off Cloete for 30, and two balls later ripped one right through Spartans skipper AB de Villiers for eight.

That sparked a bit of panic in the Spartans camp, with the middle order failing to score a boundary off the next 32 balls.

That then left the Spartans needing 15 off 12, but the experience of Dwayne Bravo (1-24) put the Rocks in the driving seat, conceding just four off the penultimate over.

But in a matter of two balls, Frylinck reminded the Proteas selectors of his value in the shortest format with two straight boundaries off Dane Paterson, who had bowled brilliantly up until that point.

Frylinck (22 off 21) picked off the remaining single with ease, to clinch the four-wicket victory.

Tshwane Spartans: Gihahn Cloete, Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers (capt), Eoin Morgan, Tony de Zorzi, Andrea Agathangelou, Robbie Frylinck, Rory Kleinveldt, Jeevan Mendis, Lutho Sipamla, Shaun von Berg

Paarl Rocks: Aiden Markram, Cameron Delport, Faf du Plessis (capt), Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Mangaliso Mosehle, Dwayne Bravo, David Wiese, Bjorn Fortuin, Dane Paterson, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tshepo Moreki


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