Inventive alternatives to traditional semi-finals are not necessarily the way forward in T20 cricket, and Sunday’s Mzansi Super League final offers a rich contest between the top two teams in the 2018 MSL league.
The right thing happened at the Wanderers on Friday, when a washout of the so-called eliminator ruled the third-placed Paarl Rocks out of contention and afforded the second-placed Jozi Stars the opportunity to contest the inaugural final against first-placed Cape Town Blitz.
Cape Town Blitz
From the unearthing of the gem that is Janneman Malan at the top of the order and the discovery of Anrich Nortje with the new ball, to the dominance of Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock, the Blitz have offered entertainment throughout and then some.
Whether they opt for an additional batsman in Kyle Verreynne or extra spinner Dane Piedt remains in the balance, but they’re an outfit knit tightly enough to make it work either way. Ashwell Prince has quashed suggestion that the pressure of a home final might get to the Cape Town outfit, but he’ll need his players to walk his talk.
The exit of Chris Gayle came as somewhat of a blessing in disguise for the Stars, with Ryan Rickelton slotting back into his rightful position in the top order. Alongside Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks, Rickelton is part of an entirely impressive trio.
Dan Christian has had a relatively quiet campaign, but started to really fire when it counted most. The visitors will expect big things from him, perhaps with the ball more than the bat in conditions that should suit his seaming variations. With the Indian Premier League player auction a handful of days away and Australia’s Big Bash League drawing closer, he could really catapult himself into a busy December.
The Blitz won in Johannesburg and the Stars triumphed in Cape Town earlier in the tournament, with 190-plus first-innings scores in both. Stars captain Dane Vilas won both tosses, opting to chase at Newlands and set at the Wanderers. Here’s looking forward to an intriguing decision at Sunday’s flip of the coin, then.
Battle within the war
The clash will feature the tournament’s top three run-scorers and four of the top six wicket-takers. The most anticipated head-to-head clash, though, is pretty much De Kock versus Kagiso Rabada. Few have been able to keep the hard-hitting left-hander quiet during the opening powerplay, while not many have been able to get properly get on top of the pace ace’s barrage.
They’ve topped the six-team standings from the first match, and despite enduring a bit of wobble through the latter half of their campaign, the Blitz have been the form team. The Stars ran them close, but not close enough – and again not this time.