Tshwane Spartans to win.
Our prediction is a Tshwane Spartans win.
Tshwane Spartans host Jozi Stars in a meeting between two sides who have thus far flattered to deceive. Both badly need some points if they are to avoid being left behind by the sides ahead of them and neither can boast more than one win in the tournament so far.
For Tshwane, this is just a second home game and they will be desperate to give their supporters something to shout about after rain cruelly cut short their run chase against Nelson Mandela Bay Rocks at the weekend. Jozi, meanwhile, have yet to play an away match so they must quickly adapt to new surroundings if they are to prevail.
With Chris Gayle now playing elsewhere, arguably the biggest star in the Jozi side is fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. He could be a key player for this match as he goes up against international team-mates AB de Villiers and Dean Elgar.
TSHWANE SPARTANS PREVIEW
Tshwane were expected to make a stronger start to the competition, largely thanks to the presence of de Villiers. However, despite his best efforts, they only have a one-run win over Paarl Rocks to show for it. Against Durban, they were deemed 10 runs behind when rain stopped play. They will rue losing three wickets inside five overs chasing what looked like a very gettable target against Nelson Mandela Bay as it cost them the game when the rain stopped the match.
While de Villiers has one half-century to his name, it is Gihan Cloete who has been Tshwane’s star with the bat – with 145 runs in four innings he was behind only Janneman Malan in the run-scoring charts at the time of writing. Others – Theunis de Bruyn, for example – have sparkled only occasionally. With the ball, Jeevan Mendis is enjoying a fine tournament and if he can back up his four-wicket haul here at the weekend, then Jozi will have their work cut out. Losing Lungi Ngidi to a knee injury is a huge blow but they do have other options including Corbin Bosch while Andrew Birch or Rory Kleinveldt could return to the side.
JOZI STARTS PREVIEW
It’s been a mixed bag from Jozi in their three matches. They lost to Nelson Mandela Bay by five wickets in their opening match before hammering Paarl by 60 runs. However, they then slumped to a 62-run defeat at the hands of Cape Town Blitz.
Now on the road for the first time, they either need their top order to fire or for their middle order to offer them more support. If Ryan Rickleton and Rassie van der Dussen score big, they usually do fine; if they don’t, others have not stepped up. Duanne Olivier has been their star with the ball so far with six wickets while Eddie Leie and Beuran Hendricks have five apiece.
They have been quite consistent in their team selection, not chopping and changing too much so it would be a surprise to see many changes from the team that lost to Cape Town. However, the coaching team may see this as an opportunity to shake things up following a big loss.
Rain is forecast for the early part of the week, but Wednesday should be dry and warm with almost no chance of rain. The changeable weather might have slowed the pitch a little.
Centurion is historically one of South Africa’s quickest pitches which offers much encouragement to quick bowlers. However, there are runs to be had here as the ball comes onto the bat. That sometimes comes at the expense of spinners, but Mendis bucked that trend with four wickets last time out.
This venue continues to favour those sides batting even though Tshwane failed to win doing so at the weekend. Nevertheless, they built a winning position bowling first and would be expected to attempt to do the same should they win the toss again. Jozi have only won the toss once so far and chose to bowl first against Cape Town, so it is likely the winning captain will want to put his opponents into bat.
Tshwane Spartans have played one game more than Jozi so arguably need the points more than their visitors. They will also be desperate to play a game that isn’t interrupted by rain and show exactly what they are capable of. With the weather expected to be good, this is the right time for them to take on an inconsistent Jozi side that hasn’t yet played away from home. Fully aware we’ve said this before and got it wrong, Tshwane should have too much in their locker this time.
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