CAPE TOWN – In their first four games they were untouchable, and in the process streaked to a healthy lead at the top of the table. The second four matches have been a stuttering affair with only a Quinton de Kock special at SuperSport Park accounting for the sole victory splattered among two defeats and a wash-out.
The reliance on De Kock and fellow opener Janneman Malan is patent. It is therefore slightly perturbing that with only two games remaining in the league phase, the middle order consisting of Dawid Malan, Farhaan Berhardien, Andile Phehlukwayo and Asif Ali have not contributed in the way their T20 records and potential suggest they can.
Coach Ashwell Prince believes it is only a matter of time they start flourishing, beginning with tonight’s much-anticipated Western Cape derby against the Paarl Rocks at Newlands.
“I’m not concerned about the middle order. We have quality in the team. We haven’t fired on all cylinders in the middle order and we’ve only lost two out of eight games and we are sitting on top of the table. I am still confident the guys are going to hit form,” he said.
“I honestly feel that we are only operating at 60-70% at the moment. If we play at 80-95% somewhere along the line then that’s going to stand us in good stead. We haven’t peaked yet but obviously people see results and think that we have peaked but if you look at form, it clearly indicates that we haven’t peaked yet and I still feel that we have a good couple of performances in the bag and that it will come out soon.”
After being caught napping - almost literally - at Boland Park in the first MSL derby when the Rocks emerged victorious on a slow surface that provided sufficient encouragement for the spin duo of Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin, the Blitz are planning a few surprises of their own this time around.
“It was a tough challenge playing until 11pm the night before, then having to fly the next day and play again - that was tough,” Prince said.
“We have had a good build-up to the game, so we should be a little bit fresher. It will definitely be a different surface here in comparison to the Paarl pitch. We are looking forward to a good game.”
Both teams have plenty at stake. Victory for the Blitz will virtually secure a home final for Prince’s team at Newlands on December 16.
In contrast, the Rocks are playing for their survival in the competition after their mid-week defeat to the Tshwane Spartans. A win will keep their playoff hopes alive, while defeat could mean the end of the road for Faf du Plessis’ men.@ZaahierAdams
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