Eastern Province’s Sisanda Magala believes his team will continue their ‘no fear’ mindset in the Africa T20 Cup finals weekend in Oudtshoorn.
Magala played a pivotal part in EP going unbeaten in this past weekend’s Pool D matches at Boland Park. The sturdy seamer picked up 1-40 in a tense three-run victory over Gauteng that set up the weekend for the coastal side. The 25-year-old showed that he could keep his nerve under intense pressure by closing out the final over with the Highveld side requiring 16 runs for victory, even after conceding two boundaries off his first three deliveries.
Getting his team over the line seemed to fill the South Africa A seamer with confidence as his performances grew in stature after the opening game. A return of 3-31 helped restrict hosts Boland to a paltry 129-7 in the next match which allowed the EP batsmen to chase it down with relative ease.
Magala, though, kept his best for last when he returned the brilliant figures of 4-9 against last season’s semi-finalists, KwaZulu-Natal.
Magala is now the leading wicket-taker in the competition with eight scalps ahead of Namibia’s JJ Smit on seven. Smit’s Namibian side has, though, been eliminated from the competition already, leaving North West’s Brady Barends on six wickets the best possible challenger this weekend.
‘I felt really good this weekend. I just tried to keep it simple and stick to my game plans. I spoke a lot to Shane Burger (SA A assistant coach) on the SA A tour in regards to staying mentally strong out in the middle and that’s what I tried to execute at Boland Park,’ Magala said.
Eastern Province face Zimbabwe in the first semi-final at the Oudtshoorn Recreation Ground on Friday at 09h45 before Northern Cape go head-to-head with North West in the second semi-final at 13h30. Magala believes his team will not change the formula that served them so well in the winelands.
‘We had a simple game plan at Boland Park. We went in with a “no fear” attitude. It was about playing with freedom and expressing ourselves and really committing to anything we did. It worked for us and we’re hoping to play with that same “no fear” attitude in Oudtshoorn this coming weekend. We know its playoff time and that brings a lot of pressure but we’re not going to change anything. We are sticking to what’s worked for us thus far because we’re going there to win the trophy,’ Magala explained.
There’s no doubt, though, that if EP wish to achieve their objective then Magala will need support from his fellow seamers in Oudtshoorn. After missing the opening game against Gauteng, Solo Nqweni certainly put his hand up to be included during the playoff stages. The former South African U19 bowler has put in plenty of hard work since being forced to remodel his action and reaped the rewards at Boland Park with five wickets at an average of 6.60.
‘It’s been great bowling in tandem with Solo,’ Magala said. ‘He is really hungry after being out of cricket for a while and has put in the hard yards behind the scenes to get back to where he is now. It’s been amazing to watch him, just driving himself, such determination and work ethic and I’m really happy for him. It’s not over yet though, we still have a big weekend of cricket ahead of us.’
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpage Pix