A Mzansi Super League tournament in the making, across a couple of versions, for over a year, will finally get underway at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday at 7pm, when the coastal kingpins meet the upcountry powerhouse.
Battle of the captains
The Spartans have their appointed captain AB de Villiers ready to rock, while the Blitz will be led by Dawid Malan, who is standing in for Farhaan Behardien, who is still with the Proteas in Australia.
Composition of XIs
The Blitz might have to do without Pakistani star Asif Ali, whose arrival has been hampered by visa problems. Fast bowler Dale Steyn has not yet been cleared to play. The Spartans have three talented seamers in Eldred Hawken, Rory Kleinveldt and Andrew Birch, but there probably isn’t space for all three in one XI.
Ones to watch
Wicketkeeper-batsman Kyle Verreynne struck a fine half-century in a warm-up match for the Blitz and will be eager to make an impression before Quinton de Kock gets back from Australia. Opener Tony de Zorsi is a hot prospect for the Spartans after striking a fine T20 century for the Titans in Abu Dhabi recently.
Where the contest could be won
Malan has identified the need to tame the dangerous De Villiers, while the Tshwane outfit will be equally keen to take advantage of the so-called middle overs, which can make or break a winning total.
The Newlands pitch characteristically provides a good match between bat and ball and has never yielded a T20I total above 188. The Blitz, of course, have several Cape Cobras players familiar with the conditions, which will play to their advantage.
Cape Town Blitz Squad: Quinton de Kock, Dawid Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Muhammad Nawaz,Hussain Talat (temporary stand-in for Asif Ali), Farhaan Behardien (c), Anrich Nortje, Janneman Malan, Malusi Siboto, George Linde, Ferisco Adams, Jason Smith, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Verreynne, Dane Piedt.
Tshwane Spartans: AB de Villiers (c), Eoin Morgan, Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeevan Mendis, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Rilee Rossouw (temporary stand-in for Sean Williams), Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikandar Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken.
The Spartans are somewhat less limited by an absence of Proteas players – and should be overcome a Blitz unit hampered by an arguably inadequate tournament build-up.
Where to next
The Blitz will meet the Durban Heat at Kingsmead – and the Spartans will clash with the Paarl Rocks. Both matches will be played on Sunday.