Warriors v Knights: Outsiders to have the edge

Gerhardt Abrahams - just one of the Knights' exciting young players
Gerhardt Abrahams - just one of the Knights' exciting young players

Ed Hawkins previews the opening game of South Africa's domestic T20 on Sunday at Newlands. And he says a shock is on the cards...


"Also in favour of a pre-toss wager on the Knights is a lack of toss bias. Newlands is well known for favouring sides who bat first under lights, and thankfully this game is not a floodlit affair."

Recommended Bet
Back Knights at 2.26/5

Warriors v Knights
Start time: 10.00
TV: live on Sky Sports


Warriors

Warriors are not a side which boast a huge array of superstars. Indeed, some of them may not even be household names in their own household.

Rusty Theron is probably their most well known player internationally. The pacer has played for Deccan, Kings XI and Rajasthan in the IPL and Jamaica in the CPL.
He is an experienced hand in an squad which is stronger with ball than bat. Last season they boasted five bowlers with economy rates of well under eight an over.

JJ Smuts is their top performer. He scored most runs for the Warriors last season and topped their bowling averages - he bowls slow left arm - with eight wickets at 24 each.

They have a run hole to fill. Craig Kieswetter hit a total of 199 last season. They will need Colin Ingram to step up and fill his shoes with a better return than an average of 18 last term.

Simon Harmer, the spinner, is absent because of his call-up to the South Africa Test squad. He was a useful man with the willow, too.


Knights

Knights can boast the top wicket-taker in last year's tournament - Shadley van Shalkwyk took 15 at 17 each with his brand of right-arm pace.

Unfortunately they are without the all-round skill of Andre Russell. The West Indian, who claimed 13 wickets and scored 182 runs, is not on their roster yet. He is a big miss. Ryan McLaren, the veteran all-rounder, is his replacement.

South Africa batsman Rilee Rossouw looks unlikely to be available. He was forced to sit out the entire one-day leg of the India tour with a foot injury. Theunis de Bruyn, a renowned batsman of class, is not too shabby as a loan stop-gap.

Knights can boast some exciting young players like Gerhardt Abrahams, who hit 213 runs last season, and bowlers Corne Dry and Deon Oliver. Each played their first full season so they should be stronger for the experience.

They should be raring to go as a new coaching team - Nicky Boje and Allan Donald - will bring fresh ideas.


First-innings runs

Since January 2014 there have been 11 T20 matches played at Newlands and the first-innings scores are remarkably consistent. In full they read: 151/165/158/154/127/146/146/129/140/154/153. That is an average of 148.

Note how there has been only one score of more than 160. If you had laid that mark each time you would be quids in.


Match odds

Even though both squads appears to be of the unfashionable variety, they had contrasting fortunes last season.

The Warriors won only three games out of 10 and finished second bottom while the Knights went all the way to the final and were beaten by the Cobras. One of those Warriors wins did come against the Knights, however, by eight wickets in East London.

Even so it is a surprise to see the Warriors as short as 1.748/11 to win this one. The Knights are 2.26/5. It is probably explained by the respective sides strong and disappointing starts in the domestic one-day cup.

Also in favour of a pre-toss wager on the Knights is a lack of toss bias. Newlands is well known for favouring sides who bat first under lights, and thankfully this game is not a floodlit affair.

It would be irritating to take the 2.26/5 now and then have to worry about whether they get first go or not. As it stands, however, they look the value call. That stands up if you argued the squads were as strong as each other, even that is patently untrue given the efforts of last year.


Top Warriors runscorer

Smuts is expected to retain his position as opener and he could be joined by Ingram, the skipper.


Top Knights runscorer

De Bruyn will be well supported. He should bat at No 3, preceded by Abrahams and Reeza Hendricks.


Recommended Bet

Back Knights at 2.26/5


Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£378.80
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
Follow Ed on Twitter @cricketbetting

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