Our prediction is Tshwane Spartans to win.
With three Mzansi Super League group games to go, there are still four teams battling it out to join Cape Town Blitz in the play-offs, including these two who will meet at The Wanderers in a day/night match. This is Jozi’s last match so if they fail to register a win, they will have to hope that others do them a favour.
Tshwane, meanwhile, have another game to come after this but realistically they must get something out of this one to keep their chances alive as they are already five points behind Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in the last play-off spot with all three teams ahead of them still having a game to play.
There is, then, plenty riding on this match and when the two sides met earlier in the tournament, Tshwane ran out four-wicket winners. Two of South Africa’s brightest stars, Kagiso Rabada and AB de Villiers, line up against one another in one battle to watch during this game.
Jozi will be smarting from missing their chance to book a place in the play-offs after failing to beat Paarl Rocks at the weekend. That match came after three straight matches on the road. This one is their second in a row at home and they should be comfortable in front of their home crowd. Gayle will not play as he has returned home following the death of his mother. With Rassie van der Dussen and Dane Vilas in decent form, Jozi should be able to cope without him.
That loss interrupted a run of four straight victories that put them on the edge of making the play-offs. Despite the defeat, they might have been tempted to name an unchanged side before Gayle’s withdrawal. Pite van Biljon can expect another chance while Ryan Rickelton should return to replace Gayle at the top of the order.
Ryan Rickelton, Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Dane Vilas (c, wk), Pite van Biljon, Dan Christian, Nono Pongolo, Dwaine Pretorius, Simon Harmer, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada
Tshwane are used to going into matches knowing they must win to keep their chances alive and they dealt with that pressure admirably when beating Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at the weekend. Riding on the back of runs from Gihan Cloete and fine bowling from leg-spinner Shaun von Berg, they need more of the same here.
Once again, they are away from home, but they have a 50-50 record on their travels this season and came out on top when they met Jozi at home earlier in the campaign. They are now on a run of two straight wins and tinkering with the team in the last couple of matches has worked well – Andrew Birch’s recall against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in particular.
There probably won’t be too many changes to their line-up for this one, but with the Wanderers playing quickly, there must be a temptation to bring back Rory Kleinveldt or Corbin Bosch to add some pace to their attack. At the same time, it would be brave to drop either von Berg or Jeevan Mendis to accommodate them so one option would be to leave out Robbie Frylinck or even opener Andrea Agathangelou, who has managed just 27 runs in two outings.
Gihan Cloete (wk), Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, AB de Villiers (c), Eoin Morgan, Tony de Zorzi, Shaun von Berg, Jeevan Mendis, Lutho Sipamla, Andrew Birch, Corbin Bosch
There has been some rain around in the build-up to the match but that is expected to clear up and dissipate by Tuesday morning. The weather is set to be warm, so the Wanderers pitch should still be playing very quickly by the time the two captains head out to toss up.
The Wanderers is seen as a haven for batsmen thanks to its quick and bouncy nature, but pace bowlers love it here too. That’s exactly what we have seen in the MSL so far with Rabada in particular enjoying himself at home. The ground still holds the MSL record for runs scored in one game, when Jozi and Durban Heat managed 407 between them and over the course of the tournament.
It’s been a mixed bag at Johannesburg as teams have both batted and fielded first and won. Jozi have only won one toss at home, successfully chasing against Cape Town Blitz. Tshwane, meanwhile, preferred to chase earlier in the tournament but won batting first last time out. With Johannesburg far less spin-friendly than other venues, it might be preferable for both sides to field first.
With Tshwane on a fine winning run just when they need one most, and Jozi having just ended their own hot streak, the two sides’ confidence levels going into this one could be very different. How the players handle the pressure could be crucial. Jozi don’t seem as comfortable playing at home as during their recent run of away games. This is by no means an easy one to call but we are just giving Tshwane the edge and feel they will keep themselves in the tournament with another win.
Featured Bookmaker: Betrally India