Cape Town Blitz v Tshwane Spartans
Sunday 1 December 12.00
TV: live on Bt Sport 3
The Blitz had had a disappointing campaign so far with four defeats out of seven. They are under pressure from Durban Heat and losing to them last time out did them no favours. At the moment, qualification (top three) looks beyond them.
Their issue is with the ball. They failed to defend 181 in that match, despite a toss bias in their favour. Chasing is tricky indeed at Newlands. They are conceding 8.8 runs per over on average this term, a jump from 7.63 last season.
What's the problem? They are attracted by fast men. Dale Steyn, Wahab Riaz, Vernon Philander, Sisanda Magala and Anrich Nortje is overkill. They need more variance in their attack and they would be smart to bring back Moeen Ali, who has disappeared from the face of the earth, to give them an extra spin option.
The batting is also not firing as it should be. Quinton de Kock has one score of more than 40 in the tournament and Liam Livingstone has tailed off. We're far from enamoured by Philander and Wahab at Nos 6 and 7, which are specialist finisher roles.
Possible XI Malan, De Kock, Bedingham, Livingstone, Asif, Philander, Wahab, Nawaz, Linde, Magala, Steyn
The Spartans went to the top of the section with victory over Paarl Rocks on Friday. AB De Villiers, in his 300th T20, produced a sparkling fifty but it was Roelof van der Merwe who picked up the man of the match award.
His three wickets for 15 helped to skittle Paarl for just 126, allowing AB to play without a care. Good on the match gong adjudicators for recognising van der Merwe as the real star, it is not often the case.
Despite their table-topping exploits, we're not that fussed by Spartans. Van der Merwe is solid but unspectacular and against better teams they made need more x-factor. Rather like the Blitz, their attack is very pace heavy with Tom Curran, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla and Morne Morkel all doing similar jobs.
Probable XI Elgar, De Bruyn, De Villiers, Klaasen, van der Merwe, van Biljon, Curran, Mulder, Morkel, Ngidi, Sipamla.
Bat first, aim for 160
The scores in the last 11 T20s at Newlands (1-2 denote match won by side batting first-second, most recent first) read: 181-2/163-1/183-1/133-1/150-1/152-1/134-tie/192-1/113-2/161-2/144-1/196-1. Before the Blitz-Heat encounter, only 47% of chasers had won. It was a black mark against Blitz, particularly as 80% had defended 180 or more. More than 160 has a 77% win rate.
Batting first key
We're expecting the match odds market to settle in favour of Spartans at around 1.804/5. If that were the price post toss, and they were batting, we'd rate them a good wager because of the importance of the flip. There's no guarantee they won't shorten prohibitively, though.
The interesting prospect is the Blitz if they bat first. Can they be as disappointing defending again? They went down by a massive wickets against Heat, even after Steyn had ripped out the top order.
De Kock's chance
Personifying Blitz's curious form is De Kock. One of the more reliable top-batters in the world, he has been a major disappointment this term failing to land one winner. The best he has managed is a shared honours with Livingstone against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. His form has not been terrible. It's not been good, either. His scores read: 10-23-39-17-41-14-35. We should be able to get 12/5 from Betfair Sportsbook, or on the exchange, about top bat honours for this one. Ordinarily he's 11/5 but we're hoping he'll be pushed out.