Our prediction is Paarl Rocks to win.
Another day, another pivotal Mzansi Super League encounter which could dramatically change the play-off picture. This is the last round-robin game for both of these sides so nothing short of a win will do. The picture is clearer for Nelson Mandela Bay than Paarl as their destiny was in their own hands going into the final set of fixtures thanks to them being seven points ahead of tonight’s opponents.
Nevertheless, it promises to be a cracking encounter as the MSL makes its final visit to Boland Park this season. When these two sides met earlier in the tournament, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants ran out 48-run winners. How they would love a repeat of that right now.
In-form Paarl captain Faf du Plessis is one of the key wickets Nelson Mandela Bay must grab and how he goes up against international team-mates Imran Tahir and Chris Morris has the potential be one of the most fascinating contests of the evening.
After suffering consecutive defeats to Tshwane Spartans and Cape Town Blitz, Paarl were under pressure for their trip to play Jozi Stars at the weekend. They delivered a brilliant performance to keep themselves alive with a six-wicket win at the Wanderers.
Du Plessis has led the side superbly, scoring four half-centuries this season and three in his last four innings. Grant Thomson came back into the side against Jozi and smashed 71 not out while Kerwin Mungroo’s introduction was a masterstroke as he took three wickets.
Paarl have shown that they are not afraid to rotate their side and bring in players who best suit the conditions. Back at home, they could well bring Bjorn Fortuin back into the side and potentially try to accommodate Henry Davids.
Cameron Delport, Aiden Markram, Henry Davids, Faf du Plessis (c), Grant Thomson, Dwayne Bravo, Mangaliso Mosehle (wk), Bjorn Fortuin, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kerwin Mungroo
When they were on a run of three straight victories over Durban Heat, Tshwane and Paarl, things were looking rosy for Nelson Mandela Bay. Things have changed since then and home defeats to Jozi and Tshwane sandwiched a rain-affected no result against Durban to leave them fighting to stay in the competition.
The 81-run hammering at the hands of Jozi has perhaps affected the team’s confidence and they are perhaps suffering for not having as star-studded a squad as other teams. However, they have plenty of experience and with Ben Duckett in good form with the bat and the likes of Sisanda Magala always a threat, they do have the potential to wriggle out of this tight situation and win.
They made changes for the game against Tshwane and will likely be tempted to field the same team again as they have limited options to bring in players who will make a difference at this late stage.
Jon-Jon Smuts (c), Jason Roy, Heino Kuhn, Ben Duckett, Christiaan Jonker, Rudi Second (wk), Lizaad Williams, Sisanda Magala, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir.
It’s been warm and wet in the early part of the week and the forecast for matchday is for it to be a little cooler. There is rain around, but it is expected to clear by the time the game gets underway. Moisture around will mean the pitch could play slower than expected.
The MSL has allowed Boland Park to take centre stage as it is not one of the most well-known grounds in South Africa. It has a 50-50 record in terms of batting or bowling first producing victories in the MSL even if overall, it seems to favour teams setting a target. It has generally been good for run-scoring with none of the matches seeing a run-rate of less than 7.
When playing at home, Paarl have won the toss and fielded twice and that was the combination that worked for them against Jozi. Nelson Mandela Bay, meanwhile, started the tournament by chasing and have since switched to wanting to bat first. If the pitch has slowed, batting first could be the way to go as spinners will come into play the more the pitch wears.
This game pits together two teams at the opposite end of the form spectrum – Paarl on a roll and Nelson Mandela Bay desperately needing to pick up some momentum. With so much at stake, it could be a close, nervy encounter. Expect the runs to flow at Boland Park but with du Plessis in superb form and Paarl in front of their home fans, we give them the edge in this one.
Featured Bookmaker: Royal Panda