This is where the competition has been leading too. In what promised to be an exciting final, the Blitz came up against the Stars. But one major factor going into the game is that the final was the Blitz’s third game in a row whilst the Stars have been able to rest and reserve their energy before the final. Was this to have any effect on the outcome of the game?
Ndola Blitz vs Kabwe Stars
The Blitz started the game with the ball in hand. An injured James Green, with his bandaged arm on display, opened the bowling attack for the Blitz with Joseph Chinunga and Ashraf Lulat forming the opening partnership for the Stars. The over proved to be a strong start in favour of the Blitz, with Lulat finding the boundary twice ending the over on 14. Geldenhuys returned the pressure to the Stars, limiting their run rate and stopping a boundary by a superb bit of diving fielding. With Green returning for his final over, he found a way to work through the pain and kept his length good, with the batting partners struggling to find the gaps in the field. Geldenhuys’ persistence was rewarded with the important wicket of Lulat, who was begging to build momentum with his 24(13).
Hawksworth, a player who has become increasingly impressive throughout the competition, further punctured the progress of the Stars by claiming the wicket of Joseph Chinunga, thanks to a looping shot straight to the hands of Parker at square leg. Despite his impressive performances with the bat throughout the competition, Chinunga could only contribute 10(11), however, the combined opening partnership of 33 (25) laid a solid foundation for the other players to build on. New batsmen Godfrey Kandela and Isaac Mwaba set about into the new bowler, Craig Stow, to try to build a new partnership. They managed 15 (11) until the returning leg spin of Hawksworth continued to cause trouble for the Stars. Mwaba was toppled first following an edge to the keeper. Then Kandela was stumped by the brilliant Fletcher, moving to the leg side before swiping the bails off the stumps.
At 56/4 with 3 overs remaining, the pressure was on the Stars to find quick runs. The incoming batters, Nsensha and Baidu, struggled with miscommunication resulting in an easy run out for Nsensha as he tried to turn singles into twos. Agaz was next in, only to edge the ball into his own wickets from an inswinging Stow delivery. With the two overs remaining, Squire joined the bowling with an unusual rotation of spin and seam bowling. The approach had the desired effect, taking another new batsmen in James Zimba. The older Kandela brother, Geldson, partnered Baidu in the final over to face the experience of Blitz captain Robert Rodgers. A final push for runs was dampened by a Baidu run out. The Stars innings concluded on a steady 84/8. Hawksworth’s middle-over spell of 2-0-18-3 managed to dislodge the Stars key batters and set their own side up for an achievable target.
Fletcher and Rodgers opened up for the Blitz innings with Tausif opening the bowling for the Stars. The fast and powerful starts that defined the Blitz group stage performances became derailed by the third ball. Big-hitter Fletcher found himself caught behind following two dots to start. Incoming Russel managed to save the over with an important six and Rodgers topped this up with two boundaries from Agaz’s first over. Rodgers soon found himself back to the pavilion, however, in search of a third boundary only to find the fielder. Tausif ended his spell claiming another important wicket; Keyel Russel, promoted up the order, was unable to get his power under the ball and guided it into Chinunga’s hands. Hawksworth and Geldenhuys were now at the crease for the Blitz and wasted no time in recovering runs to save the over. After gaining momentum with the bat, Geldenhuys turned the ball onto his own wickets following a teasing ball by Agaz. Geldenhuys made an especially important addition of 22 from 9 balls.
Godfrey Kandela and James Zimba entered the bowling attack in a match changing spell. Kandela produced a magical over for the Stars, limiting the Blitz to a single run. Zimba followed this up claiming the scalp of Hawksworth thanks to a brilliant stumping, once again, by Isaac Mwaba. Returning to complete his spell, Godfrey Kandela continued to carve his way into the batting line-up. First, Squire was caught searching for a six. Stow then fell victim to the brilliance of the Stars spin-king; Stow, chasing a ball pitching wide, failed to read the spin and was stumped out his crease. Kandela had not finished. Teaming up with wicket-keeper Mwaba, Godfrey Kandela teased Parker into another stumping. Kandela finished with figures of 2-0-2-3 and left the Blitz chasing 32 with 3 overs remaining and another important over was needed by James Zimba to keep the heat on the Blitz. Zimba provided the goods and took the wicket of Mai, leaving the score 61/9 with two overs left.
Injured Green joined Badcock at the crease to try salvage the championship. Geldson Kandela, poised with ball in hand, found good line and length when crucial, however, the pair dug in to get 7 from the over to leave 16 from 6. Tapson Nyirongo, hattrick hero from the morning, could do nothing but watch as the visibly injured Green ramped his ball home for 4, using the pace of the ball to reach the boundary. Green then lofted a straight ball over the bowler’s head for 6 leaving 3 from the last ball. Green, on strike, then clipped an inswinging ball for two to set up a super over! The Blitz came over the line with a score of 84/9.
After two weekends of cricket, the two teams could not be separated on the final fixture. Despite a valiant effort from the Ndola Blitz, the Kabwe Stars completed the victory in the Super Over by 2 wickets to be crowned champions of the BetBarter Zambia T10 Premier League.
Next page: Our Team of the Tournament