Friday December 09, 2022

Asif’s 33-ball 80 stuns Durban

By Agencies
November 19, 2018

DURBAN: Asif Ali produced a performance for the ages, shellacking a 33-ball 80, as Cape Town Blitz turned the tables on Durban Heat in a stunning chase at Kingsmead.

This innings was a clinic, really, embodying all the attributes that define T20 batsmanship: flair, skill, daring, power, and creativity of the highest order. Asif’s innings was the life jacket Blitz needed, after they had been reduced to 83 for 5 by Keshav Maharaj’s crafty spin; by the time he was finished, Asif had slashed the required rate from a hefty 12.40 to a run a ball. An excellent 19th over by Marchant de Lange left Heat clinging on to a tiny ray of hope, but it was dashed first ball of the next over, when Kyle Abbott overpitched outside off and Malusi Siboto crunched a cover drive to all but seal the game.And to think that he arrived in the middle of a double-strike by Maharaj. Blitz were 51 for 3 in a chase of 158.

The required rate was already touching 10 an over. T20 batsmen are hardly perturbed by such demands these days. But this was a seaming surface. Conditions were overcast. The bounce could be disconcerting. And for all that support for the faster bowlers, it wasn’t as though there was nothing in it for the slower ones. Maharaj had already shown that if you could find the ideal pace to settle on, you could get the ball to stop on the batsman and force errors.

Asif dealt with his first two balls, from Maharaj, with caution, getting a feel for the surface. And then, he got down to business. The manner of his progression left Heat tearing their hair apart. It didn’t matter what the bowlers did; Asif had an answer ready. Slide it into leg: sweep; take it away outside off: reverse sweep; fire it in straight: step out and smack.