MSL down to business end
The Mzansi Super League (MSL) enters the home stretch of the first phase of the regular season with five of the six teams vying for the top three positions that are set to be decided in the next seven days.
Two of those, the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Tshwane Spartans, clash in Port Elizabeth today, with one of the two guaranteed to at least go joint top – weather permitting at St George’s Park.
The pair have 19 points apiece, which is four behind the Paarl Rocks, who have played a game more, and a win will put them in prime position for an automatic berth in the December 16 Final, the reward for the top team after the 10 league-phase games.
Giants captain Jon-Jon Smuts (above), whose side have lost backto-back games for their first defeats, admits the stakes will be high in the Eastern Cape.
“I’ve said it before the last five games that every game is a big game in this competition and the one against Tshwane will be no different,” he said. “I think there are five teams still in the running and that all five can still come first, so that shows how close the competition is this year.
“We treat every game as a mustwin game. Just to keep trying and playing our best cricket and trying to get into that top three.”
The teams that end second and third will then contest a Qualifier, with the winner progressing to the decisive game.
Following their twin losses, Smuts acknowledges that he is slightly concerned about their dip in form, especially after beginning the campaign with a bang.
“You never can’t be worried when you don’t win,” he adds. “You always wonder what you could have done better. I still don’t think we played our best cricket in those wins that we had.
“If you go back in the first game, we were 50 for four and we managed to win it. We played a pretty good game against Jozi Stars up at the Wanderers, that was probably one of our better games. Cape Town Blitz again they were 150 after 15 overs and we managed to bring it back and get over the line.
“The place where we have been struggling a bit maybe has been in the top order, in the powerplay.”
Tshwane, meanwhile, have been on a roll, although they were cut down to size for their first loss of the campaign when they went down to the Blitz in front of the biggest crowd of the 2019 MSL season in Cape Town on Sunday.