Our prediction is Nelson Mandela Bay Giants to win.
After last night’s opener between Cape Town Blitz and Tshwane Spartans, the Mzansi Super League continues with Jozi Stars and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants making their tournament bow in Johannesburg. Everybody is still getting used to the Mzansi Super League and with it being very early stages still, no one is quite sure what to expect. This will be the first time either of these teams has played a competitive match.
Both are bidding to finish in the top three positions in the table which guarantees entry to the play-offs. The group winners go straight through to the final on December 16 where they will play the winner of the match between the sides that finished second and third.
That is a little way off, however, as first these two sides must attempt to hit the ground running. The home side will be led by Dane Vilas, but their obvious star attraction is Chris Gayle – a man with fond memories of the Wanderers after hitting a century here in the 2007 ICC World T20.
They are up against the JJ Smuts-led Nelson Mandela Bay side which has its own sprinkling of star quality thanks to Imran Tahir, Jason Roy and Chris Morris. However, with South Africa’s tour of Australia still ongoing, and Protea internationals missing, it gives others the opportunity to shine.
JOZI STARS PREVIEW
Jozi will want to make Johannesburg a happy hunting ground and are led by Dane Vilas even though all eyes will be on Gayle at the top of the order. Jozi will be desperate for the West Indian to get them off to a flyer before he departs, aided by the likes of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen.
With Kagiso Rabada still on international duty with the Proteas, they will miss his out-and-out pace and familiarity with the Wanderers. Instead, they need the likes of Beuran Hendricks and Dwaine Pretorius to step up. Although they have some huge names in their squad, the rest of their roster looks a little lightweight meaning they may become too reliant on their star names to perform. A case in point: despite scoring 213 for four, they lost a warm-up game to Tshwane Spartans suggesting that while they have the firepower to score big, they may lack impact with the ball.
NELSON MANDELA BAY GIANTS PREVIEW
By contrast, the Nelson Mandela Bay squad looks to have a nice balance to it – even if they will not be at full strength throughout the tournament. Captain JJ Smuts brings plenty of experience while Englishman Jason Roy and Ben Duckett are proven Twenty20 performers themselves.
Even without Chris Morris and Imran Tahir, who are on international duty, for this match they can call on the experience of Heino Kuhn, Ryan McLaren and Aaron Phangiso which gives them plenty of options. On paper, their squad might be well balanced but when it comes to the action, it could all come down to how they gel and how quickly they work out what their best line-up is.
The forecast for Johannesburg throughout the week is mainly dry with a small chance of some rain. There may be some cloud cover but there is unlikely to be any interruptions due to bad weather.
The New Wanderers Stadium is one of South Africa’s most iconic grounds and one which has seen some extraordinary run-scoring feats over the years. It was here that the Proteas chased down 435 to beat Australia in a never-to-be-forgotten ODI in 2006, for example. Expect both teams to be greeted by a hard, bouncy wicket that offers some seam movement. But it’s one that batsmen love too.
The temptation for both captains will likely be to bat first and attempt to get a massive total on board. Expect Nelson Mandela Bay to have noted what happened in Jozi’s warm-up game. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad toss to lose as teams have chased down big scores here too. The captains will want to weigh up how confident they are about their bowlers performing under the lights; if they have any doubt they may choose to bowl first. There was only one game played here in last year’s Ram.
Jozi Stars are going to miss Rabada and unless one or two of their big names fire, they may struggle to get enough runs on the board. Nelson Mandela Bay, meanwhile, could take to the Wanderers very well. The extra balance they have in their squad could give the likes of Roy and Smuts extra freedom to attack with the bat. Expect a high-scoring game with Nelson Mandela Bay’s experience to give them an edge. Remember, however, that as this is a brand-new tournament with all-new teams, that anything could still happen.
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