The Mzansi Super League previously known as Global T20 League is set for its inaugural edition and is scheduled to run from November 16 till December 16, 2018. The tournament will feature six city-based franchises - Cape Town Blitz, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, Durban Heat, Jozi Stars, Paarl Rocks and Tshwane Spartans.
Format and Venues
Each team will play every other team twice in a double round-robin fashion before the playoff stage which will consist of an eliminator and the final. The top team at the end of the group stage will get a direct entry into the final, while the next two teams at the end of the league stage will face-off in an eliminator to get the final's ticket.
The tournament will consist of 32 fixtures, which are scheduled to be played across six different venues; Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town, New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, Kingsmead Cricket Ground in Durban, Boland Park in Paarl, St George's Oval in Port Elizabeth and Supersport Park in Centurion are the venues.
While in case off playoff fixtures, the team finishing ahead will get home advantage. For example if Durban Heat finishes the league stage at top, it will two advantages; first they will get a direct entry into the final plus an additional second advantage of its home ground as in that case the final will played at Kingsmead in Durban.
So without much ado, let's take an insight on all the six participating teams.
#1 Cape Town Blitz
Cape Town Blitz are set to kick off their Mzansi Super League campaign on November 16 in the tournament opener against Tshwane Spartans. Blitz have roped in former South African batsman Ashwell Prince as head coach, While Proteas middle-order batsman Farhaan Behardien will lead the side in the inaugural edition. The team poses a jam-pack squad with all-rounders. The squad of 16 boasts no fewer than eleven players capable of making contributions with both bat and ball.
In this department, the team will bank on the likes of Janneman Malan and Dawid Malan to provide them with a good opening stand. Malan has an impressive average of 50 in his T20I career, while Malan finished as the leading run scorer for Western Province scoring 178 runs in four outing in Africa T20 Cup.
The middle order duties will be led by few well known names like Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Asif Ali and Jason Smith. All four have been in good form in recent times and they are expected to be the team's core throughout the season. In case QDK is rested from wicket keeping duties then Kyle Verreynne might be asked to put on the gloves behind the stumps.
South African pacer Dale Steyn will lead the pace attack along with Andile Phehlukwayo. Both are integral parts of the international lineup and boast of a lot of experience under their belt. Anrich Nortje, George Linde and Malusi Siboto are local players, who can be surprise packages in the league.
Farhaan Behardien (C), Quinton de Kock, Dawid Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Ali, Anrich Nortje, Janneman Malan, Malusi Siboto, George Linde, Ferisco Adams, Jason Smith, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Verreynne and Dane Piedt.
#2 Durban Heat
Durban Heat will kick start their Mzansi Super League campaign on November 18 against Cape Town Blitz. They have roped in Grant Morgan; former assistant coach Royal Challengers Banglore as head coach for 2018 season.
Hashim Amla will lead the side this year, which will be his second full time assignment as skipper in T20 format. Durban boasts a good combination of specialists in both departments of the game, which certainly gives them an additional advantage against other teams.
Durban will rely mostly on the likes of David Miller, Hashim Amla, Heinrich Kaaran and Khaya Zondo. David Miller is coming off a good series against Australia and he can be a big thorn in the opposition's flesh if not dismissed early on. While Amla has the ability to thrash any lineup and is the leading run-scorer for South Africa.
The presence of Rashid Khan, Albie Morkel, Keshav Maharaj and Khaya Zondo makes them a unit to reckon with. Rashid is the no. 1 ranked bowler in the T20 arena, while Maharaj and Zondo have been the key wicket takers in T20 cricket. With Morkel's experience being an additional plus, they can thrash any lineup on their day.
Except these four, they have also roped in the 25-year-old Prenelan Subrayen. The spinner has taken 39 T20 wickets at an average of 25.44 and is expected to be their key man in the absence of Rashid Khan. The kind of bowling unit this team exhibit, it is going to be no less than a nightmare for the rival batters.
Hashim Amla (C), Rashid Khan, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange, Vernon Philander, Brandon Mavuta, Temba Bavuma, Morne van Wyk, Okuhle Cele, Sarel Erwee, Prenelan Subrayen and Tladi Bokako.
#3 Jozi Stars
Jozi Stars will commence their MSL 2018 campaign on November 17 against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. Stars have roped in Enoch Nkwe (youngest coach among all MSL teams) as head coach. Enoch is assistant coach of Netherlands National Team and head coach for Gauteng strikers in Africa T20 cup. Stars have a good mixture of young brigade and experienced veterans.
Universal Bose Chris Gayle - the name itself is enough to elaborate the team's strength. Gayle is one of most destructive openers in T20 cricket and is capable of creating a run mountain, if not dismissed early on, while players like Van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Dane Vilas, Dan Christian clearly show the depth in the team's batting lineup. All of these players are capable of turning the game on their own.
In case of bowling, Kagiso Rabada will pose a major threat to opponents. The 23-year old has taken 55 wickets in his 44 T20 outings and he is expected to lead the brigade full of local talents. Duanne Olivier, Beiman Hendricks, Eddie Lie and Dwayne Pretorius are other players in squad that have the ability to make it in to the final eleven.
Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle, Dane Vilas, Rassie van der Dussen, Dan Christian, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Eddie Leie, Pite van Biljon, Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton, Sinethemba Qeshile, Simon Harmer, Calvin Savage and Alfred Mothoa.
#4 Paarl Rocks
Paarl Rocks will commence their Mzansi Super League 2018 campaign on November 18 against Tshwane Spartans. They have roped in Edrian Birrell as head coach, the former Ireland coach, who trained them during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and also assisted his national side, South Africa during the 2013 season. The Rocks have assigned Faf du Plessis as their skipper for this season. As du Plessis is not available for the first two fixtures due to national commitments, Henry Davids is expected to lead the team in his absence. Paarl Rocks is the only team in this tournament to name just one specialist wicketkeeper (Mangaliso Mosehle) in their ranks, which might be a little tricky in case he gets injured.
Paarl have a lot of good batters and allrounders in their ranks in Faf du Plessis, Cameron Delport, Aiden Markram, Dwayne Bravo, David Wiese and Vaughn Jaarsveld. Cameron and Markram are handy openers and it will be up to them to provide a good start and set the platform for others to follow.
Faf and Wiese are no less than a rock in the middle and are expected to give a hard time to the opponents. Dwayne Bravo's big hitting skills down the order are always a plus for any team.
Tabraiz Shamsi and Dane Paterson will be their main weapons against the opposition. Shamsi's chinaman variations are enough to trap any batsman in its web, while Paterson is expected to pose a major threat in the death and powerplay overs and it will be up to these two to provide crucial breakthroughs at regular intervals. Fortuin, Kruger and Moreki are other players that have the capability to take wickets and might be a surprise package in the tournament.
Faf du Plessis (C), Dwayne Bravo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Paterson, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle (WK), Bjorn Fortuin, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Grant Thomson, Tshepo Moreki, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport, Eathan Bosch, Patrick Kruger, Kerwin Mungroo, David Wiese and Michael Klinger.
#5 Nelson Mandela Bay Giants
Bay Giants represent Port Elizabeth franchisee in Mzansi Super League and will begin their campaign on November 17 against Jozi Stars. They have roped in former South African cricketer Eric Simmons as head coach, who is the bowling consultant of current IPL champions Chennai Super Kings. JJ Smuts has been granted skipper duties for the side. Interestingly the side poses no less than three specialist wicket-keepers in their side.
Jason Roy is the team's marquee player for this season and he is expected to be the key figure in this lineup. Marco Marais, who had a blistering Africa T20 competition with the Border team, finishing the league as most successful batsman with 359 runs in six matches will have a lot of responsibility as well. The batsman boasts of an outstanding strike-rate of 197.25, which is enough to consider his abilities in this format. The 25-year old will be eager to showcase his top form in MSL 2018. They will also bank on the likes of Christian Jonker, JJ Smuts and Chris Morris to play their part and get the team towards decent scores.
In this department, they have major spin weapons in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phansigo. Tahir has taken 58 wickets in just 37 outings for his national team in T20 cricket, while Aaron Phansigo boasts of a lot of experience under his belt and has taken 109 wickets in his T20I career. Junior Dala is a dangerous pacer and will be their key in powerplay overs.
JJ Smuts (C), Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Junior Dala, Christiaan Jonker, Aaron Phangiso, Ben Duckett, Sisanda Magala, Ryan McLaren, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Dyllan Matthews, Lizaad Williams, Rudi Second and Carmi le Roux.
Tshwane Spartans will begin their MSL 2018 campaign on November 16 in the tournament opener against Cape Town Blitz. The team poses a lot of experienced players in their ranks, but lacks young blood, with atleast 10 out of 17 players aged 30 plus.
Mr 360 AB de Villiers, who stunned the cricketing fraternity by announcing a shock retirement from international cricket in May after the conclusion of IPL, will be eager to mark his comeback with a blistering knock. Spartans also have a strong performer in Eoin Morgan, who, with 5518 runs and 28 T20 fifties to his name, is a big threat in the middle. Except these two, they will also bank on the likes of Rilee Rossouw, Sikander Raza and local talent Theunis de Bruyn to excel during the tournament.
Despite an experienced lineup in their ranks, this department seems overly dependent on the performance of Lungi Ngidi, who is one of best T20 bowlers these days. Frylink, Jeevan Media and Rory Kleinveldt are other names that are expected to be key figures in this lineup.
AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeevan Mendis, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams, Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikandar Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken and Rilee Rossouw.