Lungi Ngidi will be looking to get one over his friends and team mates. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
The Tshwane Spartans vs the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants is not a derby in the traditional sense.

The teams are separated by nearly 1130km, so calling tonight’s match in the Mzansi Super League a derby, doesn’t fit with what is classified as a sport’s derby.

However, there are a number of players very familiar with SuperSport Park, who in fact call it home. So for today you will have a derby, a Titans derby if you will.

The visiting Giants made a point in last year’s MSL draft of relying very strongly on players who’d been a part of the most successful domestic franchise in the last decade.

The Titans supplied them with Junior Dala, Chris Morris and Heino Kuhn. To that trio, this year they added Farhaan Behardien and Grant Thomson. Chuck in Imran Tahir, who made his name in South African cricket while twirling away for the Titans for many summers, and it will make for a pretty intense midweek squabble in Centurion.

“Those are guys we’ve trained a lot with,” said Lungi Ngidi. “If you paid attention at training, you know what they do.”

The Spartans, after a disappointing showing in the inaugural competition last year, decided in this year’s draft, to pick players who know SuperSport Park and its surrounds well. Morne Morkel, Roelof van der Merwe and Heinrich Klaasen were brought into a squad that has a strong Titans flavour. AB de Villiers, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn and Ngidi played in Centurion or are still doing so now. It should add to the intensity on the field.

Junior Dala of the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants will be looking for a good performance against the Spartans. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

“As players we should be okay. They know what type of bowler I am but I know what type of batsmen they are, so knowing each other’s strengths it will come down to who executes best on the day. It should be very interesting,” Ngidi added.

Besides the intimate knowledge of conditions, the Giants will arrive at SuperSport Park brimful of confidence following a comfortable win in their opening match against the Jozi Stars last Sunday.

It was a performance in which four of their Titans were dominant; Kuhn (47) and Behardien (48) shared a stand of 85 for the fifth wicket to help propel the Giants to 167/7 at St George’s Park, before Morris (1/20) and Dala (2/35) put paid to the Stars’ run chase.

The Spartans meanwhile, had to watch the rain fall in Durban on Saturday, where their opener against the Heat was washed out.

“Obviously (sharing the points) is not ideal, but it’s better than a loss and you at least come away with some points. It’s the first game at our home ground, which makes up a lot for (not playing the first game). It’s a very comfortable setting for us. It’s very exciting for us to play our first game here.”

The match starts at 5.30pm.

@shockerhess 


The Star

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