It was the day of the South Africans at the RJIC Stadium on Sunday.
After the Warriors romped to an easy win over SA Redbacks, another South African made a mockery of a stiff target as he steered Somerset to a five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders.
Roelef van der Merwe may not be an easily recognisable name but the right-handed batsman packs too many punches. The all-rounder stole the thunder from his more illustrious countrymate Jacques Kallis, who earlier had struck a brilliant unbeaten 74 (65b; 4×4, 4×6) to salvage the Knight Riders’ innings.
Chasing 162 in their Champions League Group B match, Somerset lost Chris Jones with 15 on the board but van der Merwe stood tall as his audacious strokeplay stunned the Knight Riders. He struck nine fours and two sixes – one of which was a stunning reverse sweep off Shakib al Hasan – in his 40-ball 73.
He and Peter Trego (28; 33b, 3×4) added 105 runs for the second wicket as Somerset seemed cruising towards victory.
However, Trego’s run out turned the tide and the Knight Riders prised out a couple of wickets to bring the game back to life. But the Somerset batsmen didn’t crack under the pressure and calmly collected the runs to take full points from the game.
Earlier, a well-paced half-century from Kallis and a Yusuf Pathan special breathed life into the Knight Riders’ innings. Consistency may not be his forte but what Yusuf can do is to change the course of the innings in the blink of an eye. The big-hitting Baroda all-rounder did just that to take Knight Riders’ to a competitive 161/3.
Pathan, who seemed far from comfortable running between the wickets, smashed four sixes off a hapless Arul Suppiah in the 15th over of the innings to bring the Knight Riders back into the game. The Kolkata outfit got 78 in the last six overs to make up for the poor start that they had after electing to bat.
Pathan remained unbeaten on 39 off 21 balls with four sixes to his credit but it was Kallis who provided the framework upon which Pathan built on. After Gautam Gambhir choose to make first use of the wicket, opener Manvinder Bisla got his side off to a flying start with two boundaries off the first two balls of the innings. But it was too good to last and Bisla (17; 13b, 2×4, 1×6) fell to medium-pacer Lewis Gregory.