Ram Slam T20: Warriors vs VKB Knights Preview

Batsman Hits Ball

We preview the opening game of the 2017/18 Ram Slam T20 Challenge which sees the Warriors host the VKB Knights on Friday 10 November. 

Originally only meant to get underway next year, the farcical delay of the T20 Global League means that the Ram Slam T20 will run from mid-November through to 16 December.

The first match of the tournament sees last season’s surprise packages, the Warriors, going toe to toe with the VKB Knights at St. George’s Park.

Warriors vs VKB Knights | Friday 10 November 2017 | St. George’s Park, PE | 18:00

To Win Match
Warriors 92/100 | Tie 35/1 | Knights 92/100

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It’s always going to be difficult for the plucky little franchise from the Eastern Cape to replicate the success they experienced last year. They have neither the resources nor the individual talent of the bigger franchises, but the collective effort from the entire squad last time out was admirable.

They’ll once again look to Jon-Jon Smuts and Colin Ingram at the top of the order for runs. The latter excelled over in England for Glamorgan in the NatWest T20 Blast, hitting more sixes (30) than any other player in the competition.

Smuts too, will be keen. Last season’s top run scorer, earned a call-up to South Africa’s T20 International team but ultimately failed to cement his place in the side with a couple of disappointing displays. He'll look to work his way to the forefront of the national selectors' minds with another sustained domestic showing.

They’ve got plenty of bowling options with both Smuts and Ingram playing as all-rounders. Andrew Birch and Sisanda Magala were excellent with the ball last term, taking 17 and 13 wickets respectively, while Basheeru-Deen Walters is always a threat.

Of course, Kyle Abbott will be the main threat along with Simon Harmer. One feels that these two need to start, which means Malibongwe Maketa will have some tinkering to do if he is to keep all of his bowlers happy.

VKB Knights
The Knights – despite finishing bottom of the table for the last two seasons – will come into the 2017/18 edition of the competition with renewed confidence. Nicky Boje will be able to call on all of his CSA Contracted and fringe SA players, as well as the guys who went out on Kolpak deals.

That means David Miller, Theunis de Bruyn and Rilee Rossouw will bolster the top order, while Duanne Olivier and Marchant de Lange will spearhead the attack. Certainly a strong core group of players for Boje to work with.

Another great signing for the franchise came in the form of Eddie Leie. The former Lions leg-spinner was excellent last season, picking up 12 wickets (he and Bjorn Fortuin were the leading wicket-takers among the spinners). He’ll be dead keen on impressing in his limited overs debut for the franchise on a Port Elizabeth wicket that should take a bit of turn.

Leie also managed to gain a bit of experience in the CPL in August of this year, turning out twice for the St. Lucia Stars. While he never managed to nail down a regular starting spot, the experience gained playing in such a high-profile T20 league would have proved invaluable.

Verdict: VKB Knights 92/100
The Knights look stronger on paper compared to their opposition and should take full advantage over in the Eastern Cape. That said, it’s never easy predicting the outcomes of these matches in the first round or two, approach this match with caution. Small stake on the Knights.

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Written by Jason Dewey for Hollywoodbets

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