Cape Town - A wicket apiece by Junior Dala, Sisanda Magala and Carmi le Roux in the opening 5.1 overs proved key as the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants edged the Tshwane Spartans by seven runs on the Duckworth/Lewis Method in their rain-hit Mzansi Super League encounter in Centurion on Sunday.
Chasing a modest 144 for victory, the hosts blew their chances by losing Gihahn Cloete (7), Tony de Zorzi (9) and critically AB de Villiers (1) with what turned out to be the final ball of the match to reach 35 for three when lightning stopped play.
They needed to be on 42 at that stage to get something out of the game, but instead found themselves short as they fell to a third loss in four games.
Mark Boucher’s charges will be kicking themselves, though, after they had done most things right until that final passage of the game.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, they restricted their Port Elizabeth opposition to 143 for nine after Lutho Sipamla and Jeevan Mendis shared seven wickets between them at SuperSport Park.
After a 40-run opening stand between top-scorer and Man of the Match Marco Marais, who clubbed 47 off 41 balls (5 fours, 1 six), and captain Jon-Jon Smuts (19) the visitors were pegged back regularly thanks to the two home bowlers.
Sipamla stepped up admirably in the wake of the blow to his side this week when star bowler Lungi Ngidi was ruled out of the competition through injury, by grabbing three for 29, including two wickets in two balls.
Sri Lankan leg-break bowler Mendis was even better, nabbing four for 22 with his spin.
Apart from Marais, Rudi Second (26) was the only other batsmen to reach the 20s.
It left the home side a fairly gettable target to chase, but their poor start as well as the rain meant they blew it.
For the Giants, the result left them second on the table and saw them close the gap on leaders, the Cape Town Blitz, at the top of the table.