The Sunrisers Eastern Cape and Durban’s Super Giants will meet in the much-anticipated first SA20 qualifier playoff at Newlands on Tuesday.
They have been the form teams this season with the Sunrisers edging out DSG for top spot on the log after the league stage by just one point.
The Super Giants had led the way for the majority of the competition, managing to attain seven wins and three defeats.
The Sunrisers, meanwhile, have the same number of wins, but have only lost twice.
The defending champions have certainly been much more consistent in 2024 than when they snuck into the playoffs last season.
“It is a proud moment [to finish first on the log]. We are a fantastic group of guys led by a fantastic group of management who have put in hard work,” said Sunrisers captain Aiden Markram.
“But in every sense, the competition only really starts now for us, these are the games that matter moving forward, but to finish first on the table is something to be proud of.
“The team will definitely be up for it [the first qualifier]. It is a game to get straight to the final, and there isn’t a bigger incentive in cricket, so there is no doubt the attitudes will be fantastic as they have been throughout the season.”
The Super Giants are certainly well aware of the challenge they face in the bid to qualify directly for Saturday’s final at Newlands.
“They [the Sunrisers] have been playing really good cricket,” said DSG captain Keshav Maharaj. “They are a side in form, having won four in four, and have played really well in various conditions. They are the champions for a reason.
“I think we have to execute our plans, in terms of both batting and bowling. We know what firepower they have.”
Sunrisers captain Markram was equally cognisant of the threat the Super Giants pose, especially star batsman Heinrich Klaasen.
“DSG are a fantastic team. They have played some really good cricket throughout this competition,” he said.
“They have all bases covered from batting, as well as seam and spin bowling.
“A player like that [Klaasen] you are always looking to get him out. You don’t want him to spend too much time at the crease because we’ve all seen the damage he can do.
“We will refine those plans because it’s been a while since we’ve played against them, and if they come off on the night, it will be fantastic.”
The Sunrisers will have a settled squad heading into Tuesday’s playoff with Englishman Tom Abell set to be fully fit after missing the final league match against the Paarl Royals on Sunday, although seamer Fareed Ahmed has left to join the Afghanistan national team.
The Super Giants, meanwhile, have also lost Afghanistan mystery spinner Noor Ahmed and West Indian Kyle Mayers to international duty, although they have brought in Australian all-rounder Ashton Agar as cover.
The prize on offer for the winner on Tuesday evening is an automatic place in Saturday’s final at Newlands.
The loser faces a trip up to Johannesburg to face the winner of the eliminator between the Paarl Royals and Joburg Super Kings in the second playoff qualifier on Thursday at the Wanderers.
Tuesday’s match will start at 5:30pm.
Sunrisers Eastern Cape squad: Aiden Markram (c), Tom Abell, Ottniel Baartman, Temba Bavuma, Liam Dawson, Sarel Erwee, Aya Gqamane, Simon Harmer, Jordan Hermann, Marco Jansen, Patrick Kruger, Dawid Malan, Adam Rossington, Caleb Seleka, Andile Simelane, Tristan Stubbs, Beyers Swanepoel, Daniel Worrall.
Durban’s Super Giants squad: Keshav Maharaj (c), Ashton Agar, Matthew Breetzke, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock, Tony de Zorzi, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Naveen-ul-Haq Murid, Bryce Parsons, Keemo Paul, Dwaine Pretorius, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jon-Jon Smuts, Jason Smith, Prenelan Subrayen, Reece Topley.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Sportzpics