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Sunrisers overcome Royals to end group stages in pole position

Eastern Cape side now face Durban’s Super Giants at Newlands in Cape Town

Sunrisers Eastern Cape batsman Temba Bavuma, playing his first match of season two of the Betway SA20, plays a shot during their clash against the Paarl Royals at St George’s Park on Sunday
HITTING OUT: Sunrisers Eastern Cape batsman Temba Bavuma, playing his first match of season two of the Betway SA20, plays a shot during their clash against the Paarl Royals at St George’s Park on Sunday
Image: RICHARD HUGGARD/ SPORTZPICS/SA20

Three sixes in the final two overs by Patrick Kruger helped the Sunrisers Eastern Cape rocket to the top of the standings when they beat the Paarl Royals by five wickets in their Betway SA20 clash in Gqeberha on Sunday. 

Kruger finished unbeaten on 25 from seven deliveries, including one boundary and three sixes, alongside 37 and 33 respectively by Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma to send the men in orange to the top of the table. 

The Sunrisers now shift their focus to the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday, when they face Durban’s Super Giants at Newlands in Cape Town. 

Chasing 160 for victory, the home side found scoring difficult in the opening exchanges, cautiously making their way to 41 runs for the loss of Jordan Hermann after the power play, who was bowled by Codi Yusuf for 21. 

Dawid Malan was next to go, caught by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler after he skied Andile Phehlukwayo for 19, with the Sunrisers on 49/2 and 111 runs still needed to win. 

Bavuma and skipper Markram calmed things down for the home side, sharing 63 runs to take their side to 112/2 after 15 overs. 

Markram fell to Phehlukwayo for 37 runs from 27 balls, including a boundary and two sixes, shortly before rain briefly interrupted play just before 7pm. 

Resuming with 25 balls left in which to get the remaining 41 runs, Bavuma and Tristan Stubbs took the side to within 22 runs of victory when Stubbs fell to Phehlukwayo for 19. 

Kruger struck two sixes in the same Phehlukwayo over to leave the hosts needing eight runs to win from the final over. 

Bavuma perished for 33 to Nqaba Peter at the start of the over before Kruger (25 not out) closed the game out with a six straight back past the bowler off the second-last ball of the match. 

Phehlukwayo recorded figures of 3/33 from four overs, while Peter and Yusuf finished with 1/27 and 1/29, respectively. 

Earlier, a 49-run fifth-wicket partnership between Dane Vilas and Wihan Lubbe helped the Paarl Royals to 159/7 in their 20 overs. 

Winning a toss for the first time this season, Paarl Royals skipper David Miller chose to bat first and saw his decision justified as Buttler and Mitch van Buuren shared 40 runs for the second wicket after the early loss of Jason Roy, who fell to Ottniel Baartman for eight runs. 

Having helped his side to 53/1 after the power play, Buttler scored 38 off 22 balls, while Van Buuren chalked up 14, before both men fell in consecutive overs to Beyers Swanepoel and Simon Harmer, with the hosts reaching the halfway mark on 76/4. 

Vilas and Lubbe (27) steadied the innings, with their 49-run stand coming in 38 balls before they both would perish, as Baartman claimed his second wicket of the match and Worrall took his 15th wicket of the tournament. 

Swanepoel claimed the wicket of Bjorn Fortuin (2) as the Royals reached 150 in the penultimate over before Baartman conceded just nine runs despite starting the final over with a waist-high no ball. 

The right-arm quick claimed 2/33 from four overs, while Dawson, Harmer, Swanepoel and Worrall claimed one wicket a piece. 

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