Paarl Royals advanced to the semifinals of the SA20 after being defeated by Pretoria Capitals by 59 runs in the last league game of the inaugural season at SuperSport Park in Centurion. The hosts, who were asked to bat, scored 226/5 in 20 overs, forcing Paarl to scramble for the final semifinal spot.
In order to maintain a run-rate superior to that of the Durban Super Giants, the Royals had a target within a target to attain due to their advantage of chasing. Early in the pursuit, it became clear that 163 was the magic number that the Royals were chasing. Even this proved challenging as they fell to 38/3 in the PowerPlay with Jason Roy, Paul Stirling, and Mitchell Van Buuren in the dugout.
Buttler held fort at one end and received minimal support from Eoin Morgan (24 off 12), but after the former England captain and then Paarl’s captain, David Miller, fell, their chances of advancing appeared to be slim. However, Buttler’s experience came to the fore as he overcame a shaky start to shoulder the responsibility of keeping Paarl over the NRR line. He lost Andile Phehlukwayo and Adil Rashid in quick succession, but smashed 18 runs off Colin Ingram with two sixes and a four to keep the Royals in the qualification zone.
Royals appeared to fall farther behind when Anrich Nortje supplied four runs in the 18th over, leaving the visitors requiring 24 runs off 12 deliveries to qualify. Buttler started James Neesham’s penultimate over with a six and two fours, reducing the equation to a more manageable 12 runs off 9. Bjoin Fortuin found a critical boundary later in the over and pushed his team over the finish line, despite the fact that he was dismissed the next ball for a score of 70 off 45 balls.
Earlier in the game, the Capitals responded to their loss to the Durban Super Giants by scoring 226 runs against the Paarl bowlers. Their Sri Lankan opener Kusal Mendis led the batting onslaught by scoring 80 runs off just 41 balls, including four sixes and eight fours. Mendis and Phil Salt put up 69 runs in 5.2 overs and batted till the 17th over, then Ingram and Neesham provided the killing blow. Together, they scored 63 runs off 32 balls with a strike rate approaching 200.
Tomorrow in Johannesburg, the same two teams will clash once again in the first semifinal. In the other semifinal, Joburg Super Kings will face Sunrisers Eastern Cape in Centurion.
Brief scores: Pretoria Capitals 226/5 in 20 overs defeated Paarl Royals 167/9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 70; Adil Rashid 2-18) by 59 runs.
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