In-form opener Ryan Rickleton believes MI Cape Town owe the Newlands faithful a special performance in their first home SA20 match of the season against the Sunrisers Eastern Cape on Tuesday.
MI Cape Town had a disappointing inaugural season, but have shown major improvements this season, highlighted by their 98-run victory over the Joburg Super Kings at the Wanderers over the weekend.
Rickelton, who is the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 185 at a strike-rate of 185 across two matches, wants to now display that form under the watch of the majestic Table Mountain.
“Last year was a frustration not just for me, but as a group,” he said. “We knew we needed to rectify it. We almost felt that we had nothing to lose, that’s how bad it was.
“It’s rolling for me at the moment, so I am just going to stick to it. Obviously, I just want to do well for the team and do justice to myself.
“It would be cool to do it out here at Newlands. As a group our record here isn’t very good based on last season. We have buried that and now all excited to go out there and do it.
“We owe them [the fans], we owe ourselves, and we owe everyone at MI.”
A major part of MICT’s turnaround has been Rickelton’s success at the top of the order. The attacking left-hander praised new coach Robin Peterson for breaking the shackles and allowing him to play his natural game.
“Robbie has just given me the opportunity to be free in the way I play,” he said. “I think maybe it’s been a long time coming, in terms of the way I play the game, it just needed a mental shift more than a technical shift.
“Robbie has given me the licence to try and look after the powerplay, and do what I need to do, which is to try and set the game up for our heavy lifting middle order.”
The Sunrisers Eastern Cape, meanwhile, are still seeking their first win of the competition after falling short in a high-scoring encounter with Durban’s Super Giants at St George’s Park over the weekend.
The defending champions are currently on two points after their opening game against JSK was abandoned due to rain.
England all-rounder Liam Dawson insists they are not feeling the pressure just yet.
“I think you always want to win and get off to a good start, and when you do it settles the nerves,” Dawson said.
“We know it’s the top four that qualify and ideally you want to finish in the top two, but there are still plenty of games left.”
Dawson also claimed that the Sunrisers are well prepared to contain the competition’s most in-form opening pair of Rickelton and Rassie van der Dussen, who are followed by the likes of Liam Livingstone and Kieron Pollard.
“MI Cape Town are a very good team, and it’s tough being a bowler in this format of the game,” he said. “You have to execute your skills not only as an individual, but also as a group. That’s what we are trying to do.”
MI Cape Town squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Tom Banton, Chris Benjamin, Dewald Brevis, Sam Curran, Connor Esterhuizen, Beuran Hendricks, Duan Jansen, Thomas Kaber, George Linde, Liam Livingstone, Delano Potgieter, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Grant Roelofsen, Olly Stone, Nuwan Thushara, Rassie van der Dussen, Nealan van Heerden.
Sunrisers Eastern Cape squad: Aiden Markram (c), Tom Abell, Ottniel Baartman, Temba Bavuma, Liam Dawson, Sarel Erwee, Aya Gqamane, Simon Harmer, Jordan Hermann, Marco Jansen, Patrick Kruger, Dawid Malan, Adam Rossington, Caleb Seleka, Andile Simelane, Tristan Stubbs, Beyers Swanepoel, Daniel Worrall.
Photo: Arjun Singh/Sportzpics