Hot one season, cold the next.
It’s a phenomenon that’s happened to various champion teams before and it seems to have befallen the Jozi Stars too.
The Mzansi Super League’s inaugural winners last year find themselves under early pressure after they slumped to a 24-run loss to the canny Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
This result leaves the Stars on no points from their first two matches.
Hindsight is an exact science, but Temba Bavuma will rue his decision to send the Giants in to bat.
Chasing is notoriously difficult at St George’s Park and a howling wind certainly didn’t help the Stars’ cause after they let slip a strong position.
A varied attack had the Giants struggling at 48/4 in the seventh over, before Heino Kuhn and Farhaan Behardien – longtime teammates previously at the Titans – spearheaded a superb recovery.
Behardien was the aggressor in a 34-ball 48, while the stylish Kuhn was content to work the ball into gaps with a few delightful innovations.
Chris Morris added the finishing touches as the Giants made 167/7.
The Stars ambled instead of purposefully going for the target, seemingly content to keep wickets in hand and launch later on.
But the prevailing conditions weren’t really conducive to that.
Reeza Hendricks continued his fine form, though his 62 took all of 58 balls as the Stars left themselves with too much to do with too little time.
Batsman of the game
36-year-old Behardien showed all of his value in a composed, intelligent innings.
Despite the early difficulties experienced by the Giants, he never missed out on a boundary delivery and rotated the strike well with Kuhn.
His ability to hit big and hard out of the blue keeps bowlers on their toes.
Bowler of the game
There were numerous bowlers who maintained control and performed decently, but Chris Morris’ value as a T20 player was reinforced in this game.
After his cameo with the bat, he sent down 14 dot balls in a four-over spell that cost just 20 runs.
He took the crucial wicket of Dan Christian and held his nerve brilliantly after Rassie van der Dussen smashed him for a six off a no-ball in his final over.
You could say the Stars’ decision at the toss, or the Behardien-Kuhn stand. However, the Stars were still in the game when Bavuma was dismissed for a sprightly 30 in the 16th over.
The decision to go with Van der Dussen was a strange one, given his reputation as a player who likes to build before letting loose.
His presence also didn’t prompt Hendricks to increase the tempo despite being well-set.
Should Christian, a renowned six-hitter have come in? That question is moot now.
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