Our prediction is Tshwane Spartans to win.
Paarl Rocks become the sixth and final team to make their debut in the brand-new Mzansi Super League when they welcome Tshwane Spartans to Boland Park. Every other team has played at least once but they play two home games in three days giving them the chance to get into an early groove.
Following Tshwane’s opening night loss against Cape Town Blitz, the visitors – who are in the middle of a run of away fixtures – are bidding to get off the mark in Paarl.
Faf du Plessis was appointed as Paarl’s captain but he will not be available until he returns from Australia. It means fans will have to wait to see him go up against Tshwane skipper AB de Villiers in a battle of South African heavyweights.
PAARL ROCKS PREVIEW
Like du Plessis, Aiden Markrem and Tabraiz Shamsi are also away on international duty. They have also made changes to their squad with Australian Michael Klinger being drafted in to replace Irishman Paul Stirling. Klinger’s experience at the top of the order could come in very handy with du Plessis and Markrem absent.
They will also want to make the most of Cameron Delport’s availability until he departs for the T10 tournament in the UAE so expect him to be given plenty of responsibility. Dwayne Bravo is their overseas marquee player and Paarl will expect fireworks from the West Indian.
They played a couple of warm-up matches against Cape Town Blitz and won both. Nevertheless, coach Adrian Birrell said there was room for improvement, so they are poised to hit the ground running.
TSHWANE SPARTANS PREVIEW
Tshwane will still be missing fast bowler Lungi Ngidi while South Africa’s tour of Australia continues, and Sean Williams is on duty with Zimbabwe. However, with the likes of de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Dean Elgar and Rory Kleinveldt to call upon, Paarl will find them hard to stop.
De Villiers has an ODI century to his name at Paarl so has fond memories of playing here. And he proved that he is bang in form by striking 59 in 30 balls against Cape Town. However, aside from cameos from Dean Elgar and Rilee Rossouw he lacked support, so Tshwane need others to perform.
It’s been warm and dry all week in Paarl so the pitch will have little moisture in it and there is hardly any chance of rain interrupting the match. The forecast is for the wind to rise as the day goes on – something batsmen will have to keep an eye on when trying to clear the boundary.
Boland Park is a picturesque ground that is home to the Cape Cobras. Not often visited by international touring teams, it will take centre stage during the Mzansi Super League. Just 11 domestic T20 matches have been played here, with most of them being won by the side batting first. No T20 side has ever been bowled out for less than 100 in Paarl (although Sri Lanka managed just 43 in an ODI in 2012) and the average score is 152.
Batting first seems to be the way to go at Boland Park so expect both captains to have that in mind when they go out to toss up. During last season’s Ram Slam T20, both matches at Paarl saw the side batting first win.
Tshwane won the toss against Cape Town and chose to bowl first. That didn’t work out for them at all so if de Villiers wins the toss here, he must be tempted to change things up and try to bat first and get a score on the board.
Tshwane’s squad is full of talent and they are arguably the side that is suffering the least due to international call-ups. De Villiers and Morgan are always dangerous and can be expected to kick on from their performance on opening night. De Villiers is always dangerous and can be expected to kick on from his performance on opening night. With better support, Tshwane should be looking at a better outcome.
Paarl, meanwhile, will be no pushovers. They come into the tournament off the back of a good warm-up campaign and themselves boast players with proven T20 pedigree. If Bravo, Delport and Klinger can hit the ground running then they have every chance of giving their home crowd something to cheer. This could be a close match but we just give Tshwane the edge on this occasion.
Featured bookmaker: Betrally India