Tshwane Spartans v Cape Town Blitz: CT scan reveals terminal issues

Quinton De Kock
De Kock has disappointed

Ed Hawkins previews a game in the Mzansi Super League on Sunday at Centurion involving two sides who need help in picking a balanced XI

"Tshwane are a difficult side to judge because rain has prevented them building any sort of rhythm. Their last match, against Jozi Stars, was a complete washout taking the total number of no results to three"

Tshwane Spartans v Cape Town Blitz
Sunday 8 December 12.00
TV: live on BT Sport 3

Tshwane tricky to read

The Spartans can take a big step towards qualification with a win. An even bigger step with bonus-point laden success.

They are a difficult side to judge because rain has prevented them building any sort of rhythm. Their last match, against Jozi Stars, was a complete washout taking the total number of no results to three. When they have got on the park they have won three from five.

What we do know is that they are reliant on two things: AB De Villiers and pace. De Villiers carries a batting line-up which looks shaky without a score from the great man. Dean Elgar seems to have picked up an injury, not that the calamities at South Africa Cricket are capable of informing anyone.

Tom Curran and Roelof van der Merwe at No 6? No thanks. Lungi Ngidi, Morne Morkel and Corbin Bosh get it down at a lick with the ball but we're not convinced by van der Merwe and Salamkheil as spin options when the likes of Tahir and Shamsi are working their magic elsewhere.

Probable XI Mulder, de Zorzi, De Villiers, Klaasen, van Biljon, Curran, van der Merwe, Bosh, Morkel, Ngidi, Salmkheil

Blitz unimpressive

Qualification for Cape Town Blitz is surely beyond them. As it should be with a very similar lack of balance to Tshwane Spartans.

They have also gone heavy on the pace. Overkill in fact. Wahab Riaz, Dale Steyn, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander and Sis Magala makes them top heavy. Where's the guile and nous? Oh to have used Wahab's wages to get a top-class spinner.

The balance is all over the place. They have George Linde and Philander at Nos 5 and 6, which goes a long way to explaining how they lost five for 56 against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants last time out. With Philander only bowling two overs, are they trying to remould him as a batting all-rounder? It's crazy.

Steyn, who missed that game with a jiggle, will surely return to try to lead an unlikely charge to the knockout, even if it means results elsewhere have to go their way. Quinton de Kock is in need of a score.

Possible XI Malan, De Kock, Bedingham, Livingstone, Linde, Philander, Wahab, Nawaz, Steyn, Magala, Nortje

Bowlers to fore

SuperSport Park was once again tricky for batters last time they got on the park as Paarl Rocks could only post 126. Before that match the average was 157. One in the last five first innings has busted more than 150. It's a bowl first wicket, then, with more than 60% of matches won by the chaser.

Spartans the choice

The match odds market is struggling to split these two. Tshwane are 1.9210/11 and Blitz 1.9720/21. We have an inkling for the Spartans man for man but we're hardly in a rush because of the horrible make-ups of both teams.

Spartans probably have the edge. Their bowling (five-game study alert) is promising to be consistently mean, conceding an average of just 7.74 runs per over this term. Contrast to Blitz's 8.8 and there is a clear edge.

With work in the field more important in T20 than what a team can do with the bat, we'd be inclined to support the home side. The weather forecast is, however, not great and with a heavy toss bias in favour of the chaser we'll only get involved if the flip goes their way. Chasing in a reduced-overs affair could suit them, too

Mulder not to be missed

AB has never been popular with this column because he is prohibitively short for top bat honours for Spartans. The same again at 2/1 with Betfair Sportsbook. Still, it has to be said that his main market rivals - Theunis de Bruyn and Elgar - are unlikely to play so you could argue he's a bet for that reason alone. On the flip side, Tony de Zorzi and Wian Mulder are whoppers at 7/2 and 6s. Mulder could still bat at No 3 potentially. It would be wrong not to have a nibble on that erroneous price.

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