Pakistan import Asif Ali played a sensational lone hand to deliver a thrilling three-wicket victory for the Cape Town Blitz in their Mzanzi Super League match against the Durban Heat in front of 2 800 spectators at an overcast Kingsmead in Durban on Sunday, reported SuperSport.
The 27-year-old from Faisalabad, who has only played white-ball cricket for his country (11 ODIs and 16 T20Is), smashed a remarkable 80 off only 33 deliveries, including seven fours and five sixes, as the player of the match led his team to their second consecutive victory following their win against the Tshwane Spartans at Newlands on Friday.
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With the Blitz chasing a testing 158 for victory, the match was in the balance in the 14th over when Sibs Makhanya was bowled by Vernon Philander as the visitors slumped to 83/5. Ali’s new partner, Ferisco Adams, was then able to sit on his bat and watch the fireworks in the next 16 balls as Ali scored 49 out of their 50 partnership, blitzing the Heat to all parts of Kingsmead.
The honourable exception to the slaughter was left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj who took two wickets in his first over, comprising Janneman Malan for a brisk 31 in 26 balls and Kyle Verreynne. Maharaj also dismissed Mohammad Nawaz for the excellent return of 3/24 in his four overs.
But the damage had been done, and it didn’t matter that Ali finally succumbed in the 18th over, caught in the deep by Sarel Erwee off the bowling of Kyle Abbott, playing his first competitive match since leaving the Dolphins and South African cricket two seasons ago. In the end the Blitz completed their win timeously with five balls to spare, with the weather already closing in as the players left the field.
Ali’s innings completely dwarfed all the other contributions of the visiting side’s batsmen, with only Janneman and Dawid Malan reaching double figures.
Earlier, Blitz pace bowler Anrich Nortje showed sizzling pace to grab four wickets in an explosive burst of seven balls as the Durban Heat reached 157/5 in their innings after Dawid Malan had won the toss and opted to field.