Nelson Mandela Bay Giants v Tshwane Spartans: Giants need to get back on track

AB De Villiers
AB powers Spartans

Ed Hawkins previews a crucial Mzansi Super League clash at Port Elizabeth on Tuesday as the qualification race hots up...

"Once up and running, the shrewd play could be to get against the Spartans with that toss bias against them again. The Giants, if they get their selection right, have a smarter bowling unit with more variance"

Nelson Mandela Bay Giants v Tshwane Spartans
Tuesday 3 December 15.30
TV: live on Bt Sport 3

Giants need to make changes

Nelson Mandela Bay Giants' seemingly serene progress to qualification has hit a bump. Defeat by Durban Heat last time out was a consecutive loss and they are suddenly looking over their shoulder nervously to hang on to a top-three finish.

Against Heat their usually reliable bowling attack went missing as they failed to defend 173. Junior Dala has lost his radar and Beuran Hendricks has been proving expensive. It was a particularly surprising defeat because, having paired Jason Roy and Ben Dunk in their rightful positions as specialist openers, Giants got off to a flyer.

Previously against Paarl Rocks the batting had flopped. So that's why Ryan ten Doeschate added middle-order ballast with Matt Breetzke missing out. They need to be smart with changes again. Nandre Burger must surely come back in. His left-armers have reaped four wickets in five at an economy rate of seven. It's mad that Hendricks plays ahead of him.

Possible XI Dunk, Roy, Smuts, Kuhn, ten Doeschate, Marais, Morris, Nyaku, Dala, Tahir, Burger,

Spartans strong

Spartans' charge to the top of the section was halted by Cape Town Blitz and the Newlands toss bias on Sunday. It's now three wins and one defeat and the Spartans are worrying that bad weather early in the tournament could cost them qualification.

They didn't do a huge amount wrong at Newlands. Bowling first (the deathknell) they battled hard to restrict the hosts to 157. Lungi Ngidi roared back to form, Morne Morkel was exceptional and Roelof van der Merwe was tight opening the bowling. The problem was one disastrous over from Lutho Sipamla, who went for 21. Half that and Spartans go mighty close.

That they didn't get up was down to the masterful Dale Steyn bending it round corners and the Spartans top order being blown away. Late hitting from Peter van Biljon kept them in it.

Possible XI Elgar, De Bruyn, De Villiers, Klaasen, van der Merwe, van Biljon, Curran, Mulder, Morkel, Ngidi, Bosch.

Chasers up against it

The scores in the last year at Port Elizabeth (1-2 denote match won by side batting first-second, most recent first) read: 166-1/160-2/185-2/167-1/153-2/189-1/165-1/173-1/168-1/127-2. Two out of the four matches at St George's park this term have been trend busters, downing a previous 57% win rate for the side batting first. Normal service was resumed last time when Giants succumbed for 135 against Paarl Rocks. The mean score is 145. Cloud cover is not expected to be much help for batters.

Batting first key

Early days on the match odds market for this one but if the money movements hold, the Spartans are likely to prove popular. At the moment the market might not manage to split the two in the 1.9010/11 area, perhaps largely because of the importance of the toss.

It's also likely that the surge for Spartans is just delayed. It is unusual for the AB De Villiers factor not to have an impact.

Once up and running, the shrewd play could be to get against the Spartans with that toss bias against them again. The Giants, if they get their selection right, have a smarter bowling unit with more variance. And that is crucial.

Keep it Kuhn?

Check Dunk's price with Sportsbook in the (unlikely) event they've not factored in a return to the top spot. Otherwise, JJ Smuts is underrated at anything bigger than 10/3. Heino Kuhn, a loser for us last time out, is not a 7/1 shot on record but his duck against Durban will not enamour him to bettors.

For the Spartans we continue to swerve short prices on De Villiers and Dean Elgar because there's no long-term evidence they should be as skinny. Ngidi's fitness and rhythm suggests he might be worth following for top bowler, against at around 10/3. There's no data to back that up but we know from international performances (ODI) he is a danger.

Ed Hawkins P-L

2019: +32.5pts
2018: +23.53pts
2017: +12pts
2016: +18.1pts
2015: +38pts
2014: +31.5pts
2013: +25pts
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l

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