Tshwane Spartans are favorites for the win
Our prediction is Tshwane Spartans to win.
Tshwane Spartans welcome Nelson Mandela Bay Giants to SuperSport Park, Centurion, for the latest Mzansi Super League match in what is their first home game of the tournament. They might well be keen to play in front of their home fans having only won one out of three on the road so far. Nevertheless, it is still early days in the tournament and teams have plenty of time to overcome some early losses and make progress.
That’s also something Nelson Mandela Bay need to keep in mind as they have already dropped points and like their opponents tonight, have spent most of the first week in the tournament on the road. However, they can take plenty of encouragement from the way they dismantled Durban Heat in their previous match. That lifted them to second in the table - four points ahead of Tshwane.
There are some tantalising match-ups that could play out in this match which pits an experienced Nelson Mandela Bay line-up against an exciting Tshwane batting line-up – who wouldn’t want to buy a ticket to see the battle between AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir, Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso?
Tshwane Spartans preview
We expected Tshwane to make a stronger start against Cape Town, but they were blown away in the tournament’s opening match. De Villiers had no support but with Gihahn Cloete hitting half-centuries against both Paarl Rocks and Durban Heat, the batting is looking more solid. That one-run win against Paarl was crucial as it got them points on the board. They still have work to do, however, as they were beaten by Durban in a match affected by rain.
While they are missing Rilee Rossouw and Eoin Morgan who are playing the T10 in the Emirates, they do now have their Proteas back and ready to perform. Lungi Ngidi would surely have come straight back into the team, perhaps at the expense of one of the team’s spinners, had he not been injured. Andrew Birch and Lutho Sipamla now have plenty of work to do or Eldred Hawken or Corbin Bosch - called up to replace Ngidi - may get an opportunity instead.
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants preview
Nelson Mandela Bay are still searching for the consistency that could mark them out as genuine contenders. An excellent win against a powerful Jozi Stars line-up was followed up by a disappointing defeat to Cape Town Blitz. Back in action two days later, they were brilliant in beating Durban Heat by nine wickets.
On the batting front, Ben Duckett, Heino Kuhn and Jon-Jon Smuts have scored half-centuries but they could do with others offering more support. Their star-studded bowling attack, for all its experience, still needs decent targets to bowl at. In fact, one of their lesser heralded bowlers, Smuts, is their joint-leading wicket-taker.
They will remain without Jason Roy – whose hard-hitting they could do with at the top of the order – while he is playing the T10 but otherwise they have a full squad to choose from after their Proteas players returned at the weekend.
It has been warm and humid in the area this week and unfortunately, there is some rain forecast in the hours leading up to and during the match. With this being the first game at the venue in this tournament, it is hard to predict precisely what sort of pitch the two sides will find under the covers, but it is likely to be reasonably quick.
Centurion Park 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 often comes at the expense of spinners, who rarely excel at this ground.
With rain around, it is highly like that the winning captain will want to field first, so they know exactly what they need to do batting second. That has been the choice of the majority of captains throughout the tournament and due to the weather conditions and the unknown quantity about the pitch, it seems the sensible choice. It is also often favoured by the Titans, who usually play here; in four Ram Slam matches last season, on three occasions the side winning the toss and batting second won.
The forecasted rain could play havoc with this one and potentially give some advantage to the side that bats second. All things being equal, we would just about give the edge to Tshwane Spartans. If they can get one or two more batsmen firing along with Cloete and de Villiers then even Nelson Mandela Bay’s bowlers will struggle, particularly given how spin-dominant their line-up can be.
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