PORT ELIZABETH – St George’s Park will be the setting for another classic clash when the Nelson Mandela Giants meet the Cape Town Blitz in the top-of-table Mzansi Super League match on Tuesday evening.
The two coastal cities have been the trend-setters in this inaugural competition.
After racing to four consecutive victories, the Blitz steam train hit a speed bump on Sunday afternoon when Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and his Paarl Rocks team stopped their neighbours in their tracks in the maiden Western Cape derby.
The Giants, meanwhile, enjoyed a successful weekend by completing the double over the Durban Heat on Friday evening, before coming out on the right side of a weather-interrupted contest with the Tshwane Spartans on Sunday.
The Blitz currently top the log with 18 points from five matches, while the Giants are just below on 12 – although the Port Elizabeth side have played one game fewer.
“We never adapted from the Highveld conditions to the slow and low conditions in 12 hours. We never had enough runs on the board,” Blitz captain Farhaan Behardien said.
“The average score is about 146 and we got 140, so we always thought we were in the game.
“They had a senior batsman in Faf du Plessis batting through, who kept it all together. We knew they were a batter light when (Michael) Klinger pulled out, but Faf held the innings together nicely.
“I reckon its brilliant for the team (the first defeat). It is always nice to taste a little bit of a loss before playoffs and finals.
“Sometimes when you are winning all the time, you tend to gloss over things. To taste defeat in my opinion is a good thing.
“We will lick our wounds and put it (the result) to bed as quickly as we can. Fortunately, we have won four from five and at the halfway mark, we are happy with our performance thus far.”
Not the desired outcome in the Cape Derby as we go down by 5 wickets.
The Giants, meanwhile, are set to test the Blitz batsmen once more with slow and turning conditions at St George’s Park, especially with the two left-arm spinners, Aaron Phangiso and Jon-Jon Smuts, in good form.
“In any competition like this, you need to understand your home ground. You need to understand and you need to play well. I mean, we played probably pretty close to the perfect game against the Durban Heat last week, so one would want to do that again,” coach Eric Simons said.
“We are up against the Cape Town Blitz, who are obviously a very good side. I think we’ve got a good side for any conditions, and obviously knowing we were going to play five games in Port Elizabeth, we sat with that thought in the draft – we can set the game up with our bowling.
“If we can bowl with the same discipline on Tuesday, then obviously we are going to be a tough side to beat.”