The South African domestic scene turns its attention to the shortest format on Saturday as the T20 Challenge gets underway. Here are our top five players to watch.
He will only feature for the second half of the campaign, but ex-England big hitter, Kevin Peterson, is looking to make a similar impact this year as he did last. He played seven matches, four matches less than the top scorer Quinton de Kock (437), and still managed to score 401 runs at an average of 80.20. He was the only batsman to have scored two centuries in the 2015-16 tournament and will be a vital player for the Dolphins as they look to reclaim the title they won in 2013-14.
After a successful Africa T20 cup for Northerns, where he scored 185 in three matches at an average of 92.50, Klaasen is one of the most exciting talents of this year’s domestic season. Despite scoring a brilliant 82 and 97 in his two opening Sunfoil Matches for the Titans, the 25-year-old hasn’t had the chance to free up his arms in the last few matches for his franchise. The T20 challenge will be the platform where he can do so, as he spearheads the reigning champions’ batting attack in their mission to retain the title.
Magala dominated for Easterns during their Africa T20 cup campaign, ending the season as the top wicket-taker of the competition with 12 wickets. The 25-year-old has proven to be quite lethal in the short format recording an average of 21.81 in his 40-match T20 career. His recent form for the Warriors in their Sunfoil Series campaign has been consistent and the speedster will try and channel his current form into the opening match against the Dolphins on Saturday.
The 22-year-old all-rounder is one of the most exciting talents of the current generation. In a struggling Cobras side, he has managed to step up, scoring 95 and 100 not out in his opening two matches of their Sunfoil Series campaign. Despite Western Province’s early exit in the Africa T20 cup pool stages, Smith still managed to impress, missing out on the top-10 batsmen of the tournament by two runs.
The 32-year-old spinner will be tasked with the captaincy for the first time in his career, as he looks to lead his Highveld Lions side to their first trophy since 2012–13. Phangiso is the most experienced T20 challenge campaigner in our list with 70 matches and is the fifth-most successful bowler in the competition with 64 wickets, and he will look to channel his international experience into his captaincy for the Lions, having played 11 T20 matches and 21 ODIs for the Proteas taking 16 and 26 wickets respectively.
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