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Underdog Rocks want to dim Titans’ galaxy of stars in CSA T20 Challenge final

Ziyaad Abrahams has really come to the fore for the Rocks in the CSA T20 Challenge. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Ziyaad Abrahams has really come to the fore for the Rocks in the CSA T20 Challenge. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Feb 26, 2022


Cape Town - Paarl Rocks captain Pieter Malan believes his team are the "underdogs" heading into Sunday's T20 Challenge final against the Titans.

The Rocks have been the surprise package of the tournament having recovered from a couple of early defeats before building up momentum that has seen them progress to the showpiece.

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They are not a side that boast any superstars, bar ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year Janneman Malan. The Proteas opener has not enjoyed the most prolific of tournament thus far though with the bulk of the run-scoring being left to his brother Pieter.

The Rocks skipper has been a pillar of strength for his team at the top of the order with his 57 against neighbours Western Province in the semi-final taking him to the top of the competition's run scorers list with 297 runs.

This is in complete contrast to the Titans who are littered with match-winners all through their XI . Not only do they have Proteas batter Theunis de Bruyn and the enigmatic Quinton de Kock walking out to face the new ball, they are followed by the hottest property in South African cricket Dewald Brevis coming in at No 3.

And if this is not enough fire-power there is still former Proteas T20 captain Henrich Klaasen and the dangerous Donavon Ferreira waiting in the dug out.

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Equally, the Titans bowling line-up is a fully-fledged Proteas unit with World No 1 T20 bowler Tabraiz Shamsi the headline act that also consists of Junior Dala, Lizaad Williams and the wily Aaron Phangiso.

Malan and his charges are though not intimidated by the challenge in facing up to the mighty Titans. The Rocks have a canny coach in Andrew Birrell that also masterminded a Mzansi League triumph over the Spartans - the alter ego of the Titans - a couple years ago.

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Everything the Rocks may lack in star power they make up in planning and skill with their line-up best suited to the conditions. The Winelands outfit have a trio of unheralded spinners in Imran Manack, Siyabonga Mahima and veteran Shaun von Berg that perform their roles to absolute perfection.

They have also unearthed a wildcard in seamer Ziyaad Abrahams, who has come into the side midway through the tournament and stormed to the top of the wicket-taking charts with 12 scalps in just four games.

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It's for this reason that Malan remains confident they can complete a major heist at St George's Park.

"It's going to be a huge challenge against the Titans," Malan said. "We know we the underdogs and we comfortable with that.

"But our bowling unit has been superb and hopefully we can surprise a few people in the final."


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