Round one of the CSA T20 Challenge gets underway this weekend with a full set of fixtures coming your way!
It’s back! The CSA T20 Challenge will pit South Africa’s six professional cricket franchises against one another in two months of scorching summer cricket!
The excitement is building with the first round of matches set to take place this weekend! The Wanderers plays host to a double-header on Saturday which will feature the VKB Knights vs the BuildNat Cape Cobras before the bizhub Highveld Lions square off against the Multiply Titans. Sunday's sole fixture will pit last year's losing finalists, the Hollywoodbets Dolphins against the Warriors at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead.
Saturday 12 November
VKB Knights 9/10 | Tie 35/1 | BuildNat Cape Cobras 9/10
The Knights finished rock bottom of the competition last season with just three wins from their ten matches. Having said, that the Free State franchise have strengthened their squad since then. The most notable arrivals being David Miller from the Dolphins, Robin Peterson from the Cobras and Marchant de Lange from the Titans.
These three players alone will add immense value to a squad that looked out of sorts and short of experience last season. The Knights will need all of their guile and experience to overcome the traditionally strong Cape Cobras.
Things aren’t as rosy as they could be at the Cape Cobras at the moment. Their convener of selectors Alan Dawson recently resigned. This after his position at the franchise became ‘untenable’ following a deterioration of the relationship between the players and coach, Paul Adams. The strain on this relationship seems to be showing in the Sunfoil Series where the Cobras sit rock bottom of the standings having lost three and drawn two games.
Having said that, the Cape side have a decent-looking squad. Wayne Parnell, Rory Kleinveldt and Dane Paterson will spearhead a dangerous bowling attack while Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick will form a dangerous opening partnership. With the Cobra’s off-field issues and the shrewd acquisitions made by the Knights in the off-season, I think that the Free State franchise just about edges this contest. Get on the Knights at 9/10.
bizhub Highveld Lions 5/4 | Tie 35/1 | Multiply Titans 67/100
The one team I’m really worried about heading into the T20 Challenge campaign is the Lions. They’ve lost the core of their side to the South African Test squad, and the players that remain don’t look as though they’ll set this competition alight.
They look especially skint in terms of their batting. Alviro Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks are going to need to carry the side with the willow.
The Titans, on the other hand, have more than enough firepower in every department to win this competition at a canter. Henry Davids, Albie Morkel, Heino Kuhn, David Wiese, Farhaan Berhardien ooze quality at this level and should all make pretty short work of a Lions side which looks well short of the mark in this format.
The men from Pretoria are priced up as outright favourites to win the competition and should be respected - especially on the Highveld where their powerful batting line-up will get maximum value for their shots.
Again, it’s difficult to call these matches before a game has been played. However, the Titans have a far superior squad and should win this fairly easily.
Sunday 13 November
Hollywoodbets Dolphins 67/100 | Tie 35/1 | Warriors 5/4
So close yet so far: this was the story of the Dolphins’ 2015-16 domestic T20 campaign. Fuelled by the brilliance of Kevin Pietersen, the KZN franchise made it all the way to the final before being comprehensively beaten by the Titans in Pretoria.
They KZN franchise come into this year’s competition slightly worse off than they were last year thanks to the high profile departures of David Miller and Kyle Abbott.
That said, they still have one of the best opening combinations in the competition in Morne van Wyk and Cameron Delport. The middle order looks solid enough too, with Khaya Zondo, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Divan van Wyk all capable of getting a move on with the bat while Andile Phelukwayo will be keen to show what he can do with the bat following some impressive displays for the Proteas.
Keep in mind that the side will only be bolstered by the return of Kevin Pietersen in the second half of the season. The mercurial Englishman is currently working on local and international commentary for the South Africa’s tour of Australia.
There has been precious little out of the Warriors camp in terms of their squad this season, although the outright betting seems to suggest they don’t really stand a chance. Jon-Jon Smuts, Colin Ingram, Andrew Birch and Simon Harmer will form the backbone of a squad that will be desperate for the return of Kyle Abbott from international duty.
Aside from JJ Smuts, the Warriors don’t really have any game changers. The Dolphins look stronger and should be backed to claim victory at home on Sunday at 67/100.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.