Fireworks expected as Stars take on the Rocks
Jozi Stars power-hitter Rassie van der Dussen has said the key to his team advancing to the Mzansi Super League final will be to have wickets in hand at the back end in their home qualifier against the Paarl Rocks on Friday night.
The Stars take on the Rocks under the floodlights at the Wanderers (7pm) with a place in the final of the inaugural Mzansi Super League final at stake.
The winner of the playoff match will travel to Newlands to play the pool stages winners‚ the Cape Town Blitz‚ in Sunday’s final.
The Stars will hope that lightening does not strike twice after they went down to the selfsame Rocks team by six wickets with three balls to spare when the two teams squared off in the pool stages on Sunday.
Van der Dussen‚ who is the tournament leading scorer with 405 runs in 10 innings at 51.25 and is the owner of the most sixes (22)‚ said the Stars have enough fire-power in their batting line up and should have no problems getting past the Rocks in Friday’s matchup should they set up a solid foundation.
“Look when we bat well and have wickets in hand in the last 10 overs then anything can happen‚” said Van der Dussen.
“So for us the key is just to set up the innings well because we know at the back end what the boys can do. That’s our recipe that we want to go with.
It promises to be a thrill-a-minute affair between the two sides who boast some of the big-hitters in the tournament‚ but it is ball in hand where Van der Duseen and company can have the upper hand.
With home conditions suited to pace and bounce at their disposal at the Wanderers‚ the Stars will pin their hopes on speed merchants Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier‚ who blew away the Tshwane Spartans in their last match.
Nono Pongolo will hope to put in another impressive shift after spear-heading Stars’ crushing 101-runs victory over the Spartans on Tuesday to set up the home qualifier against the Rocks.
Pongolo was the last bowler that captain Dane Vilas called upon and the Langa-born 29-year-old bowling all-rounder ripped through the Spartans’ middle order with a breathtaking career-best 6 for 20‚ the best figures ever recorded in a T20 at the Wanderers.
It was also the best bowling figures of the tournament and Pongolo said the most important factor for him is for the team to do well.
“We just want to make sure we prepare as best as possible for that playoff game on Friday‚” said Pongolo.
The Paarl-based Rocks booked a play-off spot with a convincing six-wicket bonus-point win over the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday.
In captain Faf du Plessis and Proteas openers Deal Elgar and Aiden Markram‚ Cameron Delport‚ Dwayne Bravo‚ Grant Thompson‚ Henry Davids and David Wiese the Rocks are capable of dimming the Stars’ in front of their own fans.
Australian Daniel Christian scored the quickest half century so far off just 18 balls in the last match as he and his Stars teammate Van der Dussen peppered the stands with an eye-catching display of power-hitting and will again be the man to watch.
The in-form Stars have won five of their previous matches but came unstuck against the Rocks at home last week. Rocks captain Du Plessis believes that result is something his team will draw plenty of confidence from.
“I think they’ve got a good balance to their side, but not too long ago we played them there and we beat them,” said Du Plessis.
“They have some good pace up front and a really long batting line-up. In the last game our bowlers were very good in trying to make sure of restricting them to anything in the region of 170 or thereabouts. A score like that is very chase-able at the Wanderers.
There is no reserve day and in the event of insufficient playing time being available to achieve a result the Stars will go through to the final on the basis of their better final log position.