Victory for the Stars at the Wanderers on Tuesday will book them a berth in the Mzansi Super League play-offs. Triumph for the Spartans will mean the first half of their quest is complete, as they’ll still need to defeat the Heat in Centurion on Wednesday.
The Stars lost to the Spartans two weeks ago when solid performances from Reeza Hendricks and Simon Harmer, in particular, were not enough. The latter team have since been galvanised, while the former have faltered. The hosts, of course, have lost Chris Gayle. He has headed home due to family reasons, meaning Ryan Rickelton will probably return to the top of the order alongside Hendricks.
Many schools of thought share the view that this is how it should have been in the first place – and here’s Rickelton’s chance to prove them right. There will be more onus on Dane Vilas to deliver with the bat, too. The performance of Kagiso Rabada will be characteristically key. Even if Dean Elgar and company get on top of him early, the pace ace has shown that he has the skills and temperament to bounce back with late, telling wickets.
With just four wins in eight attempts, the Spartans have really lacked the consistency effectively promised by the composition of their squad before the tournament started. They’ve managed to stay in the running on the back of victory over the more-fancied Nelson Mandela Bay Giants last week – and now the hard work really begins.
Two victories will push them above the Giants in the standings – and therefore into the play-offs. It’s at high-stakes times such as these that they really need their old hands – Robbie Frylinck, Rory Kleinveldt and others – to step up in the bowling department. Captain AB de Villiers and Elgar, as usual, will spearhead the batting ranks.
The Spartans were triumphant last time the teams met, but revenge will be sweet for the Stars, who will join the Cape Town Blitz in the play-offs and relegate the Tshwane team from contention.