All-rounder Markram assists Sunrisers Eastern Cape.

Markram finished with a 35-ball 50, hitting seven fours.

Sunrisers Eastern Cape broke their duck in the inaugural season of SA20, defeating MI Cape Town by four wickets in Gqeberha on Monday. Aiden Markram (2 for 8 & 50 off 35) led from the front (January 16). George Linde’s late surge, which included an unbeaten 63 off 28, was in vain as SEC’s middle-order secured the victory.

When MI was asked to bat first, Ottniel Baartman and Sisanda Magala struck inside the PowerPlay to leave the batting side reeling at 30 for 2 in 5 overs. When they tried to resurrect the innings after the PowerPlay, Markram came in to put the breaks once more. He dismissed two batters in quick succession, Dewald Brevis and Sam Curran, who had the ability to shift momentum away from the bowling side even from this position. Brevis, on the other hand, was struggling for runs and eventually holed out, falling for a forgettable 15 off 28 balls. Curran attempted to cut a long delivery and ended up nicking to the keeper, falling for only eight runs.

MI looked doomed at 52 for 4, but Linde and Rassie van der Dussen came to the rescue with a 59-run fifth-wicket stand. Despite breaking the stand, Linde went on to score a half-century and help the team pass the 150-run mark.

When Curran reduced the chasing side to 9 for 2 in the third over, MI would have thought the total was enough to secure their third win of the season, but SEC’s middle-order came to the party in the team’s attempt to pick up their first points of the tournament. Sarel Erwee and Markram put on 92 runs for the third wicket off 58 balls, putting their team on track for victory. Rashid Khan and Odean Smith took wickets in consecutive overs for MI Cape Town as SEC fell from 101 for 2 to 107 for 4, losing both Erwee and Markram.

But then came the very impressive Tristan Stubbs to turn the game back in his team’s favor. Sunrisers Eastern Cape eleven needed 30 off three overs, which Stubbs reduced to 18 off two with a big six to end the productive over for the batting side against Smith. He then dealt with Curran expertly, hitting him for two fours in a 13-run over that reduced the equation to 5 off 6 balls. Despite Smith’s dismissal of Stubbs, James Fuller walked out and hit consecutive fours to finish the chase.