The Africa T20 Cup group stages conclude this weekend with Pool D getting underway at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday.
Hosts Boland are joined by KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Province as Pool D is tipped to be the toughest and most competitive group of the tournament.
The winner will meet one of North West, Northern Cape and Zimbabwe in the semi-finals with the venue of the final to be announced.
‘I must say that we’re really excited to have been chosen to host this pool,’ home coach Johann Louw said. ‘That honour is really exciting for the locals and hopefully they’ll turn out in their numbers to support us.
‘We’re really passionate about putting on a good show. I think it’s going to be very tight as we’ve seen in the other rounds. I feel we have the edge because we’re at home, but I think whoever can adjust to the conditions quickest will be right up there come Sunday.’
Boland, who boast some experienced players notably Justin Ontong and Stiaan van Zyl, open up their campaign against KZN on Friday, before facing EP and Gauteng on Saturday and Sunday.
Gauteng coach Sandile Masengemi and EP coach Piet Botha, tipped this group as the toughest pool of the tournament.
‘I think we’re in the toughest group, there’s no doubt about that,’ Gauteng coach Masengemi said. ‘But we’re ready for the challenge.
‘The preparations have not been as smooth as we would have liked due to a few challenges, but we’ve adapted now and are prepared.’
Botha agreed with his opposing coaches, but remained complaint-free. ‘It’s an extremely tough group, but it’s good in a way,’ Botha said. ‘Everyone will be under the same pressure and it will make for good cricket.
‘We were quite happy to be drawn on the last weekend because it gave us a little more time to prepare. We’re thankful for that and feel we are ready.’
Gauteng boasts star names like Eddie Leie and Mangaliso Mosehle, while EP will rely on the experience of Jon-Jon Smuts, Sisanda Magala and Colin Ackermann to push them forward.
Cameron Delport, Keshav Maharaj and Robbie Frylinck will represent KZN, coached by former Proteas fast-bowler Roger Telemachus. Telemachus emphasised that his team is up for the challenge.
‘We’re up against three quality sides this weekend but we’re just focusing on trying to put it all together on our side because we believe that if we can do that then we’re a very good team as well.’
Two matches each will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with an evening game scheduled for the first two days. Sunday’s matches are both day games. The weekend matches will be televised on SuperSport.