Henry Davids hits MSL’s fastest fifty as Paarl Rocks become champions

Paarl Rocks 148 for 2 (Davids 77*, Pretorius 43) beat Tshwane Spartans 147 for 6 (De Villiers 51, Udana 2-24, Shamsi 2-26) by eight wickets

Paarl Rocks were crowned champions of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) after a convincing eight-wicket win over Tshwane Spartans in front of a sell-out crowd at Boland Park. The home team chased 148 inside 15 overs and bossed the final from start to finish. Though the result was never in doubt, it was the Rocks’ first victory over the Spartans in five matches across both editions of the tournament to date. Here’s how the new MSL winners earned their prize.

Home-town hero

Henry Davids, who hails from Pneil – a town 20 minutes away from Paarl – set up the Rocks’ victory with the fastest fifty of this MSL, off just 22 balls. Davids’ array of strokes included a cracking cover drive in the first over off Imran Manack, four fours off Morne Morkel’s opening over where he was majestic on the pull and a trio of sixes, over midwicket, cover and backward square leg to knock the wind out of the Spartans’ sails as early as the end of the Powerplay. The Rocks were 72 for 0 after six overs, with no sign of stopping. Davids also featured in the highest first-wicket stand for the Rocks’ in this tournament of 78 runs, with Cameron Delport.

Test-ready Dwaine Pretorius

A fracture to his right hand three weeks ago did not stop Dwaine Pretorius from having his best day of 2019. Not only did he recover from the injury in time to play in the final, but he made a telling contribution to the Rocks’ victory. Pretorius was sent in at No.3, ahead of his captain Faf du Plessis, and he made the most of his promotion. He sent Dean Elgar over cover for six, and then dispatched David Wiese for back-to-back maximums, over long-on and deep midwicket. Pretorius finished with 43 runs off 21 balls and took the Rocks to the brink of victory. He wasn’t there at the end but still had a day to remember, after also being named as one of six uncapped players in South Africa’s Test squad to play England.

Don’t drop AB

South Africa’s greatest entertainer, AB de Villiers, was in early after Tony de Zorzi was bowled by an Isuru Udana slower ball in the third over and showed his intent almost as soon as he had the opportunity. Though Elgar kept most of the strike until the sixth over, de Villiers hit Ferisco Adams for back-to-back leg-side fours off his first two balls to remind the Rocks of the damage he could do. But de Villiers’ innings could have ended two overs’ later when lobbed a simple return catch to Tabraiz Shamsi off his second ball. Shamsi spilled the chance and de Villiers, then on 21, went on to add another 30 runs to his total, including a boundary over Shamsi’s head. Shamsi redeemed himself somewhat when he had Elgar caught at cover the ball after the dropped catch and later had Heinrich Klaasen caught at long-on to finish with figures of 2 for 29.

Remember the name – Kerwin Mungroo

Little-known Kerwin Mungroo has not made a splash on the wicket charts or the economy rates before this match but his presence, at a little under two metres tall, always suggested something special was coming. In the final, the man from Pietermaritzburg made a name for himself on the other side of the country – Paarl – with a composed performance that kept the Spartans’ to a chaseable total. Mungroo opened the bowling and created pressure with two overs that cost only nine runs. De Zorzi was dismissed in the middle of his first spell. He returned in the 16th over and kept the brakes on a Spartans side whose run-rate had stagnated at just over seven to the over and then bowled the last over, that started with the wicket of Wiese and ended with the run-out of Pite van Biljon to finish with 1 for 21 from his four overs.

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