Phil Salt. (Photo by SA20/Sportzpics/Gallo Images)
- Phil Salt wasted little time establishing himself as Pretoria Capitals’ batting bae in the win over Sunrisers Eastern Cape.
- The Englishman showed his class in tempering his usual bludgeoning approach to play a more nuanced innings that proved a match-winning effort.
- Skipper Wayne Parnell hailed him for his adaptability.
He’s probably used to that comparison by now, but Phil Salt wasted little time establishing himself as Pretoria Capitals’ proverbial batting bae in the inaugural edition of the SA20.
The 26-year-old Englishman crafted a brilliant, unbeaten 77 off just 47 deliveries in spearheading a 23-run victory over Sunrisers Eastern Cape at St George’s Park on Thursday, a classy knock that showcased a brand of nuance and swagger similar to Salt Bae, Turkish butcher Nusret Gokce, when he seasons his cuts of meat.
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Indeed, Capitals skipper Wayne Parnell hailed the opener for taking the lead in the Centurion-based franchise belatedly playing some smart cricket on the night following a rather inauspicious, rain-interrupted start.
Some poor strokes from the top order and home skipper Aiden Markram’s cheap two-wicket burst had seen the Capitals slip to 80/5, before Salt found effective allies in New Zealander Jimmy Neesham and Parnell as they led their team to an imposing total.
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“I thought we actually played some pretty smart cricket even though we lost one or two wickets too many in the early stages,” said Parnell.
“But just seeing the class of Phil, playing a different role from what he usually does [was really encouraging] and he and Jimmy really got us into a good position.”
Salt is more renowned for his bludgeoning stroke-play – evidenced by a career strike-rate of 151 in the T20 format – yet the adaptability he illustrated in this effort was as compelling as a barrage of sixes.
Striking “just” 11 fours without remotely sacrificing his rapid scoring tempo proves the point.
“If you look at his career, he’s quite an aggressive player. He was still quite aggressive in the powerplay,” said Parnell.
“Obviously, when we lost a few wickets, I felt he reigned it in a bit but still had the normal intensity. When he was bowled a bad ball, he put it away. Carrying his bat allowed some of the other batters a bit more freedom. Those two big partnerships [in the latter stages of the innings] were crucial for us.”
Without singling out any member of the attack, Parnell was also chuffed with a “good” bowling performance, illuminated by a splendid and hasty spell from Anrich Nortje.
The Proteas quick notably castled the dangerous Tristan Stubbs in finishing with 2/18 in his four-over quota.
Meanwhile, Sunrisers batting hero Jon-Jon Smuts bemoaned the hosts letting things slip at the death.
“You want to be scoring at around 10-an-over in the final six overs of an innings and that’s exactly what the Capitals did, which meant they got the extra 20 runs that made all the difference,” said the burly opener, who made a 51-ball 66.
“We got fairly close even when we weren’t remotely at our best. That’s actually a good thing for us.”