JOHANNESBURG – Mother Nature has been the winner of the CSA T20 Challenge even with two rounds of league play and a set of play-off matches left to be decided.
Only the table-topping Cape Cobras have avoided rain for the majority of their campaign with just one match ending in a ‘no result’. The Knights have had five matches rained out, and the only points they have earned are a result of the two points shared when games are abandoned.
The Dolphins and Warriors each earned eight points from rained out games and the Titans and Lions six. As a result, for five of the sides it’s been difficult to build momentum. The Lions must feel cursed in the white-ball formats having had four of their 50-over games in the Momentum One-Day Cup rained out.
But the teams arrive at the final weekend of the round-robin phase with only the Cobras really assured of a semi-final spot. The Cape side will be pushing to remain atop the log and ensure a home semi-final and potentially a home final as well.
Although they’ve been fortunate to avoid the worst of the weather, the Cape side have also played some darn good cricket in this tournament. This was highlighted by Janneman Malan’s century against the Warriors two weeks ago.
David Bedingham and Kyle Verrynne also impressed with the bat, while Aviwe Mgijima’s return to form on Wednesday against the Titans was both heart-warming - following the death of his father a few weeks ago - and encouraging given the time at which it has come in the competition.
With the ball, Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt have combined for 18 wickets, which has helped the Cobras keep opposition batsmen under pressure.
The Warriors have snuck into second spot, seemingly unperturbed by the rain, and Wednesday night’s performance against the Lions will have boosted confidence in their ranks. Lutho Sipamla and Andrew Birch were superb with the new ball and then Gihahn Cloete and Matthew Breetzke ruthless in how they tackled a below par target.
It would have given the Lions some food for thought too, especially about how they negotiate the power play. Although facing Kleinveldt and Philander as they do today at Newlands, means their task won’t be any easier.
Nine points separate the Warriors in second from the Dolphins in fifth, meaning there is still plenty for all the teams to play for. Even the Knights, winless at the bottom of the table, but with those 10 points because of the rain can still make the semis, but they will need to win both of their remaining games with a bonus point.@shockerhess