Our prediction is Jozi Stars to win Mzansi Super League!
After a month of intense action in front of thousands of spectators in South Africa and many more watching on television, the Mzansi Super League reaches its conclusion at Newlands. Cape Town Blitz dominated the early part of the competition with four straight wins and despite a few wobbles, were always heading for the play-offs and it was no surprise to see them book a home final with games to spare.
Jozi, on the other hand, only just missed out on making their way straight through to the final but qualified without having to play the Eliminator due to rain. As they finished in second place, they won through and Paarl Rocks will have to try again next year.
When these two sides met earlier in the competition, Cape Town beat Jozi in Johannesburg and Jozi returned the favour at Newlands in the more recent encounter. This is the decider in more than one sense – to the winner all the spoils.
Those four early wins set Cape Town up nicely and critical to their success was that on each occasion subsequent to that run that they lost a match, they immediately followed it up with a victory. Quinton de Kock has been their star performer with the bat, hammering a century against Tshwane Spartans and 93 against Paarl – when he goes big, Cape Town generally win.
With the ball, Dale Steyn has been unerringly consistent, but the headlines were often made by others. Anrich Nortje took eight wickets in three matches before injury sidelined him while Ferisco Adams and Mohammad Nawaz have played starring roles.
Their last two group games were at home and they are highly likely to name the same team for the final that did the job against Paarl and just came up short against Durban Heat.
Janneman Malan, Quinton de Kock (wk), Dawid Malan, Farhaan Behardien (c), Mohammad Nawaz, Andile Phelukwayo, Asif Ali, Ferisco Adams, Dale Steyn, Malusi Siboto, Nandre Burger.
Jozi made an unsteady start to the competition before four straight wins in the middle put them on track to make the play-offs. An unexpected six-wicket defeat to Paarl put them under pressure but they responded with a 101-run hammering of Tshwane Spartans to make the Eliminator.
Reeza Hendricks has been a revelation since he came into the side while he has been backed up by Rassie van der Dussen, on a run of two straight half-centuries, and Dan Christian. With the ball, Nono Pongolo has become their leading light with Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada playing supporting roles.
They named an unchanged team for the Eliminator against Paarl and can be expected to go for the same again in the final unless there are any late injury concerns.
Ryan Ricketlton, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Dane Vilas (c, wk), Pite van Biljon, Dan Christian, Simon Harmer, Nono Pongolo, Kagiso Rabada, Beuran Hendricks, Duanne Olivier.
The good news is that it has been sunny and warm in the run-up to the match at Newlands and it looks like it will stay that way throughout the weekend. That means there is next to no chance of rain and the pitch will hardly slow.
In the shadow of Table Mountain, Newlands is one of South Africa’s premier cricket venues and worthy of hosting any final. Often producing a fast and bouncy pitch, we have seen lots of runs scored during the MSL. On the other hand, spinners have enjoyed some success here, making it an ideal Twenty20 venue.
Cape Town have won the toss four times in the tournament, batting first on three occasions. That strategy tries to minimise the effect spinners can have in a second innings and they can be expected to want to do the same again. Jozi, meanwhile, have also chosen to bat first the last three times they have won the toss, so they will likely try to do the same again.
Cape Town marked themselves out as title contenders right from the start and here they are, just one game from clinching the MSL title. If everything fires for them, they are too strong for almost all-comers. However, on occasion, their batting has been brittle – early wickets can unsettle them and that is what Jozi will be targeting. In Rabada and Pongolo, they have the firepower to do it but even if they don’t, they are perhaps the only team in the tournament with the confidence to chase down any target. Hendricks, van der Dussen and Ryan Rickelton could be too much for even Cape Town to deal with and we give Jozi the edge.
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