Ed Hawkins previews Sunday's clash from Boland Park and says the toss should be key...
"The AB factor will ensure that Spartans are prohibitively priced for much of this campaign. Early on, until they have proved us wrong, it is worth taking them on at odds-on"
Paarl Rocks v Tshwane Spartans
Sunday 17 November, 12:00
Live on BT Sport 3
Rocks hit by injuries
The Rocks are looking very solid after destroying the Cape Town Blitz for just 84 in their last outing. Yet there would have been frustration they were unable to build on their brilliant start when rain washed away chances of play against Durban Heat on Friday.
Further inspection of their line-up against Blitz, however, might dampen the mood. We like Cameron Delport and Henry Davids in the opening slot. And so far so good with faf Du Plessis at No 3. Then it starts to go wrong. Dwaine Pretorius at No 4? Really? Hardus Viljoen at No 5?
There are mitigating circumstances. Aiden Markram and JP Duminy have injuries and James Vince was unavailable. Vince is definitely in the XI for this one but they are probably still a batter short. Markram will open if he gets over a broken wrist (unlikely).
Viljoen and Pretorius are eyecatching with the ball instead and alongside Tabraiz Shamsi they have a varied attack which should make it to the business end of the tournament.
Reliant on AB
Like Durban Heat, Tshwane have not completed a match because of bad weather. Unlike Heat they are probably grateful. Against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants last time out they were in the mire at 33 for four.
AB De Villiers was a not out batsman and it is entirely possible he could have blasted them out of trouble. That could be a prediction for their season. The Spartans could be over-reliant. We're not convinced by their collective smarts, either. Why would you bat Dean Elgar at No 3, taking up precious balls, instead of AB, who goes in at No 4?
It seems a bit 'last hurrah' for this lot with Vaughan van Jaarsveld getting on a bit, Morne Morkel still pounding in and Roelof van der Merwe a bargain-basement overseas selection. The one bright spot is Lungi Ngidi who is one of the best fast bowlers in the world.
Big prices on big runs
The big factor at Boland Park, Paarl down the years has been the toss. Only 30% have chasers have won over a 17-game study. It would be folly not to factor that into our wagering. It's not as if big scores regularly occur. A par score is a middling 160.
Rocks need to bat first
The AB factor will ensure that Spartans are prohibitively priced for much of this campaign. Early on, until they have proved us wrong, it is worth taking them on at odds-on.
Early doors prices have them at 1.834/5. That means when the market settled we should be able to get 2.15 about Paarl, who at least seem to have a strong bond to have overcome adversity against Blitz.
We don't expect the market to move too much if the toss goes their way because, frankly, it's an obscure trend. So 2.1011/10 should still be our pointer to place. Last year these two played out a thriller at the venue. Spartans defended 203 by one run. The weather forecast is for no rain.
AB spot on
AB is 9/4 with Betfair Sportsbook for top Spartans bat. Do we want to be betting a No 4 at those odds? Probably not. Particularly as there is no edge. From his career in franchise leagues, AB is bang on a 9/4 shot. So hats off to Sportsbook for getting it right.
We were hoping for a bet on Ngidi for top Spartans bowler but have been unable to unearth much evidence that 3/1 is value, particularly after just coming back from injury. He is averaging 1.09 wickets per game domestically which is surprisingly low.
Back Paarl Rocks batting first 2.1011/10 (1pt)