Ed Hawkins previews the 'semi-final' in the Mzansi Super League from Port Elizabeth on Friday...
"iants dispatched Tshwane with ease in the previous clash and balance for balance we have them as the superior side."
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants v Tshwane Spartans
Friday 13 December, 15:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Giants' final push
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants were pipped by Paarl Rocks on run rate for top spot in the group section. Instead of going straight to the final they face the Spartans in a home semi-final.
They should be confident of victory given that, like Rocks, they are one of only two teams to have all basis covered. Strong with the bat (an average runs per over of just shy of nine) and decent with the ball (conceding just over eight) they have balance. And nerve, too, to make the big calls.
Last time out they replaced Jason Roy as opener with Ben Dunk, allowing them to add depth to their middle-order. Nandre Burger has also returned providing important variation with his left-arm darts. Chris Morris is vital with bat and ball.
Probable XI Dunk, Breetzke, Smuts, Kuhn, Ten Doeschate, Marais, Morris, Burger, Mnyake, Nabe, Tahir,
Have the Spartans got through the back door? Qualification was secured after a washout prevented Durban Heat getting the win they needed for top-three finish against the Jozi Stars. Spartans have hardly played, too, with five of their matches rained off.
They are in credit by one game in the win-loss column. But we've seen enough to hardly be impressed. They are heavily reliant on AB De Villiers and a four-strong fast-bowling group. Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi, Tom Curran and Corbin Bosch are there to cover for a lack of spin threat which was highlighted perfectly when these two last met.
The Spartans posted a challenging 188 but with Roelof van der Merwe and Wagar Salamqheil going for nine and 11 an over respectively they lacked control and nous.
Possible XI Mulder, de Zorzi, De Villiers, Klaasen, van Biljon, Curran, Van der Merwe, Bosch, Ngidi, Morkel, Salamqheil
PE difficult to read
The scores in the last 11 (1-2 denote match won by side batting first-second, most recent first) read: 188-2/166-1/160-2/185-2/167-1/153-2/189-1/165-1/173-1/168-1/127-2. There's a historic trend for the side batting first, even if three times that trend has taken a wobble. Runscoring is up, too. Previously 150 was a solid score at PE but with 160 busted nine times in 11, teams batting first are having to set their aspirations higher.
Giants look strong
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants are 1.804/5 and Tshwane 2.03. The latter price should drift as the market matures to around 2.1511/10.
When that does happen, we'd argue that's about right. Giants dispatched Tshwane with ease in the previous clash and balance for balance we have them as the superior side. Indeed, we'd even consider a big bet with the toss bias because of the Spartans' lack of variation in attack.
In an ideal world we might even hope for a repeat of that earlier clash, when Spartans traded as short jollies and Giants roared back, hitting freely against the samey and predictable bowling line-up. No rain is currently forecast.
Mulder has x-factor
Over his entire franchise career, De Villiers is winning top bat wagers around 30% of the time. It is an incredibly impressive statistic. Unfortunately, Betfair Sportsbook know this and are bang on with their quote of 23/10 for another top finish for Spartans. Instead, the value could be Wian Mulder. Mulder managed a fifty against Giants in the previous meeting and is one of the chunkiest-priced openers we have seen all tournament with Dean Elgar having disappeared from view.
Imran Tahir is another big performer. He has a 25% win rate on top bowler. But he's too skinny at 23/10. Junior Dala was the man to follow before this tournament got underway but he has lost his radar and the Giants have dispensed with him. Burger excites us and could be available at around 7/2 as we try to bet ahead of the curve.
Ed Hawkins P-L
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