The business end of the Mzansi Super League continues at the Wanderers on Friday, when Stars and Rocks will battle for a berth in Sunday’s final against the Cape Town Blitz at Newlands.
The team, minus the services of big-hitting West Indian Chris Gayle, have hardly skipped a beat en route to this play-off in Johannesburg, where batting kingpins Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen will again prove vital. They’ve produced the goods so far – and now is not the time to fail. That said, Ryan Rickelton and the like are waiting to step up on cue.
They beat the Rocks earlier in the tournament, but hardly had their batsmen tested at the time. They then lost earlier this month, when their batting faltered. And therein is the Rocks’ opportunity to pounce, especially if a visiting seam attack, spearheaded by Dane Paterson and complemented by Dwayne Bravo, capitalise in conducive conditions.
The Rocks managed to sneak into a play-off berth ahead of the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, but will be the first to admit they haven’t gathered the momentum captain Faf du Plessis has insisted on. Either way, they’re in the eliminator – and here’s another chance to triumph in isolation.
Their batsmen, especially Cameron Delport, will be entirely challenged by pace ace Kagiso Rabada. He has taken wickets in clutches – and is the man for the big moment. Whether circumstance will see Bjorn Fortuin open the bowling too, remains in the balance. The Rocks, meanwhile, will do well to ascertain how Nono Pongolo did so well against the Tshwane Spartans recently – and combat him accordingly. His slower balls were particularly tricky, but might not work as well in Johannesburg as they did in Centurion.
Paarl copped criticism for gaining a tournament berth ahead of Bloemfontein, but have done well to justify the choice – and should ensure a Western Cape derby in the final.