Does AB de Villiers still have the magic? Photo: PA Images

The hype has well and truly arrived for the Mzansi Super League following the completion of the player draft on Wednesday.

But which teams are genuine title contenders?

We run the rule over the six squads, evaluating the batting and bowling resources, and their title chances…

Cape Town Blitz

Squad: Quinton de Kock, Dawid Malan (England), Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Samuel Badree (West Indies), Asif Ali (Pakistan), Farhaan Behardien, Anrich Nortjé, Janneman Malan, Malusi Siboto, George Linde, Ferisco Adams, Jason Smith, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Verreynne, Dane Piedt.

Batting: The loss of JP Duminy is a massive blow to the Blitz team’s ability to set up a big score. He is the leading T20 run-getter for the Proteas. Quinton de Kock is his replacement, but is more a dasher who will blow hot and cold at the top of the order. Ashwell Prince will hope Dawid Malan will provide the solidity through the innings, and Farhaan Behardien and Asif Ali must clear the boundary.

Bowling: Much stronger than the batting. An attack of Dale Steyn, Andile Phehlukwayo, Malusi Siboto and leg-spinner Samuel Badree provides real variety, although it’s interesting to note that Prince has signed three spinners in total, including George Linde and Dane Piedt.

Title Chances: The Blitz will have to rely on a lively Newlands pitch, especially in the night games, for their bowlers to spearhead their challenge for the crown.

Durban Heat

Squad: Hashim Amla, Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange, Vernon Philander, Brandon Mavuta (Zimbabwe), Temba Bavuma, Morné van Wyk, Okuhle Cele (rookie), Sarel Erwee, Tladi Bokako.

Batting: Big-hitters throughout the squad – Morné van Wyk and Sarel Erwee at the top, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen in the middle, and Albie Morkel and Vernon Philander at the end. Add in Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma and Khaya Zondo to stroke it around, and you’ve got a potential run-machine.

Bowling: Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan is the No 1 T20 bowler in the world, Kyle Abbott is as consistent as they get, and Vernon Philander will have a point to prove in white-ball cricket. But they may have to play another spinner in Keshav Maharaj, as Marchant de Lange’s express pace can travel…

Title Chances: Probably the most balanced squad out of the six teams, and they are real contenders for the championship.

Vernon Philander will have a point to prove in white-ball cricket. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Jozi Stars

Squad: Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle (Windies), Dane Vilas (kolpak), Rassie van der Dussen, Dan Christian (Australia), Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Eddie Leie, Pite van Biljon, Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton, Sinethemba Qeshile (rookie), Simon Harmer (kolpak), Calvin Savage, Alfred Mothoa.

Batting: Which Chris Gayle will rock up? The big West Indian will also miss a part of the tournament due to the T10 event in the UAE. The Stars will need local stalwarts Dane Vilas, Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks to be in the form of their lives with the bat, and Pite van Biljon will be the glue in the middle-order, and Dan Christian can hit a long ball.

Bowling: Kagiso Rabada is one of the best in the world, but he may not get the same level of support. Duanne Olivier and Beuran Hendricks are the best of the rest, but there is a lack of strike-power outside of Rabada.

Title Chances: Apart from Gayle and Rabada, not enough star quality that can push them into a final.

Kagiso Rabada has quickly grown into the leader of the Proteas attack. Photo: Reuters

Nelson Mandela Bay Giants

Squad: Imran Tahir, Jason Roy (England), Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts, Junior Dala, Christiaan Jonker, Aaron Phangiso, Ben Duckett (England), Sisanda Magala, Ryan McLaren, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Dyllan Matthews (rookie), Lizaad Williams, Rudi Second, Carmi le Roux.

Batting: The Giants have some shrewd signings to back up hard-hitting English opener Jason Roy. Jon-Jon Smuts, Heino Kuhn, Rudi Second, Christiaan Jonker and Ben Duckett present a formidable top-six, and Chris Morris can be the difference between winning and losing at the end of the innings.

Bowling: Imran Tahir is in superb form, but can he carry the Giants attack? We all know about Morris’ hot-and-cold bowling, but Aaron Phangiso has been around a long time and has an excellent T20 career run rate of 6.89. Junior Dala will have confidence from playing for the Proteas recently, although it was just against Zimbabwe. Ryan McLaren will also be a vital cog.

Title Chances: A very capable batting line-up should see them look to occupy the crease first whenever they win the toss, but Tahir may have to shoulder too much responsibility to launch an effective title bid.

Paarl Rocks

Squad: Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Paterson, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Grant Thomson, Paul Stirling (Ireland), Tshepo Moreki, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport, Eathan Bosch (rookie), Patrick Kruger, Kerwin Mungroo.

Batting: Run-scorers for days – Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram, Paul Stirling, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport and Vaughn van Jaarsveld will make enough runs against most teams.

Bowling: Three top-class bowlers in Dane Paterson, Dwayne Bravo and Tabraiz Shamsi… and not much else.

Title Chances: That batting line-up can chase down most scores on a good deck, so captain Faf must find a way to win a few tosses without JP Duminy spinning the coin!

Tshwane Spartans

Squad: AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan (England), Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeevan Mendis (Sri Lanka), Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams (Zimbabwe), Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla (rookie), Tony de Zorzi (rookie), Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe), Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken.

Batting: Does AB de Villiers still have the magic? Surely he does, especially in T20 cricket. Eoin Morgan will be his lieutenant, but they will need serious support from Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar and Tony de Zorzi. Rory Kleinveldt and Robbie Frylinck will be key strikers at the back-end.

Bowling: Lungi Ngidi is oozing confidence from starring for the Proteas and winning the IPL with Chennai Super Kings. And there will be a whole variety of bowlers to take wickets and keep the runs down – Kleinveldt, Frylinck, Andrew Birch and spinner Jeevan Mendis.

Title Chances: Well-constructed squad as well, with a lot of experienced limited-overs campaigners who have seen and done it all. One of the favourites.

 

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