All six teams will be in action on Friday as competition for the top three sports heats up in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
The big fixture of the round see’s the fourth place Dolphins host the Cape Cobras, who sit just one spot above them on the log. A win for either of last year’s finalists will entrench their position in the top three.
The Titans and Lions are on opposite ends of the points table, but that won’t count for much in the battle for Highveld supremacy. The Pretoria-based side are a good outfit and it’s only a matter of time before they click and upset the apple cart.
In East London, the Warriors host the Knights in the last match of the round. The Knights have had the wood over their rivals in all formats this season and will be eager to pick up the points away from home to keep up with the front-runners.
Players to watch:
The match between the coastal rivals will see their West Indian recruits go head to head. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard are both extremely competitive and would love to earn some bragging rights over the other. Pollard has been in better touch, though, which could swing this one in favour of the Cape Cobras.
Batsmen generally enjoy themselves on the Highveld, but it’s the bowlers that decide the result. Chris Morris seems to be back to his best for the Lions after recording record figures last week. He’ll be striving to replicate that performance as he looks to remind the national selectors of his credentials. For the Titans, Tabraiz Shamsi‘s left-arm chinaman has provided the side with the variation they need. If he finds a length then he will be tough to score off.
The Knights have surprised everybody by their run of form in the competition. It’s been on the back of committedd performances in the field, led by the competitions top wicket-taker, Shadley van Schalkwyk. He will mix it up and his variations in pace will make life difficult for the batsmen on the slow track in East London. For the Warriors, JJ Smuts has had a great time with the ball, but his main task is to score runs at the top of the order. He’s done that consistently in the 50-over format, but has struggled thus far in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge. If he comes right, the whole Warriors machine may click into gear.
The Cape Cobras have suffered just one blip this tournament, while the Dolphins have shown a few cracks in their armor. For this reason, the men from Cape Town should collect the points.
The Titans are one of the hardest hit teams by the absence of the Proteas and their depth has been found wanting. By contrast, the Lions have an experienced unit that should be too strong on the day.
The Knights have been the surprise package of the tournament and should ride the crest of the wave to another comfortable victory.
Preview compiled by Gareth Stevens.