Our prediction is Jozi Stars to win.
Match 26 of the Mzansi Super League pits a side on the crest of a wave in Jozi Stars against a side that badly needs to get back to winning ways in Paarl Rocks. The Wanderers should be rocking for this weekend clash which could go a long way to determining where these sides finish in the table.
For Jozi, fresh off four straight wins, they are back in front of their home crowd after a run of away fixtures. That has to give them a boost as they push to seal a favourable play-off place. Paarl started the tournament poorly, picked up pace in the middle, but have now stumbled right at the crucial time.
When these two sides met earlier in the tournament Jozi ran out 60-run winners as Ryan Rickelton and Rassie van der Dussen ran riot with the bat and a repeat of that performance would be just the ticket for the home side.
In their last four matches, Jozi have beaten Durban Heat twice, Cape Town Blitz once and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants once. In only the last game – when Nono Pongolo produced an inspirational rescue act with the bat – was it a close encounter. That could perhaps be attributed to some weariness as that was their third game on the road.
Back in front of their home fans at the Wanderers, Jozi will be keen to add to their tally of just one win and should have a spring in their step. Although Chris Gayle has not fired since his return to the side, enough of the other batsmen are contributing. With the ball, Kagiso Rabada is leading the line as he was expected to with Duanne Olivier and Dan Christian providing excellent support.
They are unlikely to make many changes for this match given how well they have been playing unless the management feel any players need a rest after three away games.
Chris Gayle, Reeza Hendricks, Ryan Rickelton, Rassie van der Dussen, Dane Vilas (c, wk), Nono Pongolo, Duanne Olivier, Simon Harmer, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada
The wheels have just started to fall off for Paarl. Just when they needed a couple of strong performances, they have failed to deliver. Twice they have won the toss and batted and twice they have failed to set big enough targets for either Tshwane Spartans or Cape Town to overcome.
Only du Plessis is showing any consistency with the bat and they may have to find a way to get experienced batsman Henry Davids back into this side in a bid to shake up their batting line-up for this key match. Dwayne Bravo has been good with the ball but owes his side some runs – maybe this match, up against his compatriot Gayle, is the one where he will produce something special.
Cameron Delport, Henry Davids, Faf du Plessis (c), Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Dwayne Bravo, Mangaliso Mosehle, Dane Paterson, Bjorn Fortuin, David Wiese, Tshepo Moreki, Tabraiz Shamsi
Thunderstorms are forecast this weekend in Johannesburg with a high probability of rain appearing throughout the day. That might slow the pitch down a bit and make run-scoring difficult. It also brings the Duckworth/Lewis method into play which will keep everybody on their toes.
Run-scoring feats are always associated with The Wanderers and it still boasts the highest aggregate score of the tournament so far. While it offers bounce and carry for the quicks, batsmen often prosper too and there might not be much in the pitch for spinners.
More and more teams are choosing to bat first as the tournament goes on. Paarl have done so in their last two games even though they have then fallen short. Jozi also batted the last two times they won the toss but have been comfortable chasing as well. Expect the trend to continue and both teams to want to bat first.
Paarl are in something of a rut at the moment and it could be that chasing could switch things up and give them a better chance than setting a target. Nevertheless, they really need others to step up and offer du Plessis and Bravo support. Jozi are scoring victories even when their in-form batsmen don’t fire and in Olivier and Rabada, they have two of the tournament’s leading wicket-takers. Expect their home advantage to tell.
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