The Joburg Super Kings and the Paarl Royals lock horns in the SA20 eliminator at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
Each side has taken contrasting routes to the playoffs. The Super Kings stuttered through the league stage, winning just three matches before sneaking through via a dramatic final game win over the in-form Durban’s Super Giants at the Wanderers.
Super Kings captain Faf du Plessis believes that now that the playoffs have arrived, and especially with both the eliminator and second qualifier playoff being staged at the Wanderers, his team are in a prime position to go all the way just like the Sunrisers Eastern Cape did last season when the defending champions snuck into the knockout stage.
Will Lizaad Williams, the joint-highest wicket taker in the group stage, help the Joburg Super Kings get their first SA20 win over the Paarl Royals?
“We saw last year with the Sunrisers they scraped through to get to the semi-finals, so we believe that as a team as well. The only difference is this year that there is an extra game,” Du Plessis said.
“Last year there were just two semis. The extra game is a little bit more of a workload in getting there, but the way we are set up at the moment with the two home games really gives us an optimistic approach to the challenge that lays ahead.
“Playing a Paarl team that has lost four games in a row, there is a lot of confidence that if we play our best cricket we can beat any team on the day and we’ve shown that when we beat Durban [Super Giants].
“When you get to the knockout stage it’s almost like a new tournament that starts. Everything that you have done in the three weeks before means absolutely nothing. We start the tournament fresh with the first qualifier.”
The Royals, meanwhile, raced out of the starting blocks in this season and qualified in third position for the playoffs with two games to spare.
However, they have endured a four-game losing streak and will be eager to break that run of defeats against JSK.
“It hasn’t been ideal the last four games, but like I mentioned after the game in Port Elizabeth, I was really happy with the way we went down. It was the way we want to play. We executed incredibly well and managed to get a competitive score,” Royals captain David Miller said.
“I think we played really good cricket, but unfortunately the opposition took the game away from us in the last five overs in all those games.”
The Paarl Royals have not had much to celebrate recently, but do have an unbeaten record to preserve against Joburg Super Kings in the eliminator.
“What we thought would have been a good score then became quite a massive score. As batters you are under pressure getting 10/11 per over from the get go. It is the nature of the game, but we are refreshed and looking forward to the game. This T20 game can swing very quickly and we are optimistic it can go our way.”
Miller is also not too concerned with the fact that JSK have home advantage for eliminator.
“We are well prepared in all conditions. We have won up in Pretoria, we’ve won here [Wanderers] as well in the league stage.
“We have done well in Paarl, which of course suits our game, but we’ve done well on the Highveld as well. It’s all about adapting on the day and playing accordingly,” Miller said.
The winner of the eliminator will face the loser of the first qualifier playoff on Thursday in the second qualifier.
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