Cape Town - Cape Town Blitz paceman Dale Steyn remains hopeful of
reaching the Mzansi Super League (MSL) play-offs ahead of their must-win
showdown against table-toppers Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Cape Town on
Ashwell Prince’s side ended a three-game losing sequence
when they beat the Tshwane Spartans in a thrilling game last time out to stay
alive in the hunt for the play-offs.
But now with two games to go, they are left with little room
for error. They currently sit fifth on the table and with the smallest chance
of the five teams in contention of getting to next week’s Qualifier and the
subsequent December 16 final.
Ashwell Prince’s men have 17 points from eight games, one
fewer than the Durban Heat (18) and two shy of the Tshwane Spartans (19), who
hold the key third position and whom the Blitz will face in their last
regular-season outing on Sunday.
Nonetheless, veteran Standard Bank Proteas paceman Steyn,
who is the top wicket-taker in the competition, insists they are playing well
enough to be confident of slaying the Giants.
“I think we’ve played very good cricket to be honest,” he
said of their MSL 2.0 campaign thus far. “The three games that we’ve lost, we
could have easily won those, as a matter of fact we should have maybe won two
out of the three.
“So I don’t think we’ve been playing badly.
“Our position where we are on the log shows a team that
hasn’t been doing well, but I actually think we’ve been playing really good
“We’ve just been on the wrong side of it, just unlucky on
one or two little moments in a contest that we’ve lost.
Steyn, who has 15 wickets to his name, was also looking
forward to what could be their last match at Newlands, which drew the biggest
crowd of the season in the last match there on Sunday where nearly 7,000 fans
were in attendance.
He added: “It’s awesome to play in Cape Town. It’s my
favourite ground in the world. Honestly, it’s the best place.
“Our last game is on Friday, I’m just looking at the regular
season for now, and I’m hoping for a similar crowd. We look forward to ending
With the stakes high for both teams, Giants captain Jon-Jon
Smuts does not feel his team is feeling any pressure heading into a game, which
for them was not yet a must-win scenario.
However, it was one that should they win, it will guarantee
their progress into the play-offs and possibly even secure them top spot should
other results go in their favour in the next few days.
“I don’t think we’ve been feeling any pressure to be
honest,” he stated. “I thought we played pretty well in Durban (when we lost on
Saturday), I just think the Heat were better than us.
“Against the Spartans we had a bit of luck go our way and
luckily we made use of it.”
That game he referred to was the last one where a record run
chase and brilliant unbroken 86-run partnership by Ben Dunk (99) and Marco
Marais (38) helped pull off a stunning win over the Spartans.
“We’ve had two record run chases at St George’s Park for the
season already and we’ll take that,” Smuts concluded. “It was a magnificent
chase, Ben Dunk and Marco’s partnership was unbelievable at the end, so it was
a fine win for us.”
The Cape Town Blitz squad: Quinton de Kock (capt),
Wahab Riaz, Liam Livingstone, Dale Steyn, Sisanda Magala, Anrich Nortje, Asif
Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Janneman Malan, George Linde, David Bedingham, Vernon
Philander, Marques Ackerman, Gregory Mahlokwana, Khwezi Gumede.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants squad: Imran Tahir,
Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Junior Dala, Matthew Breetzke,
Onke Nyaku, Ben Dunk, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Beuran Hendricks, Grant
Thomson, Akhona Mnyaka, Ryan ten Doeschate, Nandre Burger, Dylan Matthews.
- Cricket SA media