Chris Morris showcased his match-winning qualities as he helped the Nelson Mandela Giants retain their winning momentum with a tight five-wicket win over the Durban Heat in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Proteas all-rounder powered his way to an unbeaten 22 off just 10 deliveries, rescuing his franchise from the depths of having to score 29 runs from the last two overs.
His last two boundaries, edges off the unlucky Malusi Siboto’s (2/41) bowling, were admittedly slices of fortune, but one could also argue that Morris made his own luck.
He first whacked Kyle Abbott for four in the penultimate over, before lauching Siboto for six off the second delivery of the final one.
It all had seemed to have gone pear-shaped for the Giants as their steady approach in chasing 161 almost left them with too much to do.
England star Jason Roy finally hit form with a punchy 50 off 38, yet when Jon-Jon Smuts (33) and Marco Marais fell in quick succession, the Heat smelled some blood.
It was tough on the visitors, who made an excellent recovery from 50/4.
The experienced duo of David Miller (45 off 36) and Ravi Bopara added precisely 100 for the fifth wicket, allowing the Durbanites to post a surprisingly competitive score.
Batsman of the game
He was on the losing side, but this battle would’ve been one-sided had it not been for Bopara’s unbeaten 57 off 43. There was nothing unduly powerful from the 34-year-old Englishman, who rather focused on rotating the strike and then accelerating once he got in. Given the situation the Heat had found themselves in, this was a top effort.
Bowler of the game
There was a case to be made for Keshav Maharaj’s superb, economical spell of 1/17 from four for the Heat. However, the Giants’ left-arm quick Nandre Burger’s double strike in the third over of the match felt decisive, even with the game turning out to be so tight. It put the Heat under immediate pressure and yanked their dangerous trump card, England’s Alex Hales, out of the equation.
It had to be Heino Kuhn’s audacious reverse sweep for six off the normally impeccable Abbott, a thrilling shot that brought the Giants’ equation down to 16 from 6 and gave them belief again.