DURBAN – After a slow start to the Mzansi Super League, the stakes are getting higher and higher for the Durban Heat.
They currently sit at the wrong end of the standings, glancing up at the lofty position held by the Cape Town Blitz and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants.
In an ideal world, that is where the Heat would have envisaged themselves to be after three matches, two of which were at home.
“We have regrouped after the weekend, and we come into this with fresh minds,” David Miller explained.
The Heat lost to the Giants in Port Elizabeth last Friday, where they were again let down by their batting. It is a growing problem, and one that they are looking to address.
“The bowlers have been fantastic, and if we can put up some runs on the board, then we will definitely compete,” the Proteas star added.
However, things have not gone smoothly for the men playing out of Kingsmead. Their loss to the Giants was damaging enough, by a margin of nine wickets.
That was made a lot worse by the blow suffered by skipper Albie Morkel, however. There were fears that the hard-hitting finisher might be finished in the competition, but those were assuaged on Monday.
There was significant bruising, but Morkel himself is committed to playing his part in the Heat’s revival.
His return is just in time to take on another team trying to build some momentum.
Faf du Plessis brings a Paarl Rocks side that took a lot of confidence from being the first to inflict defeat on the hitherto unbeaten Blitz on Sunday.
Du Plessis was at the centre of that victory, his 54 the meticulous glue that held together the 141-run pursuit.
The Rocks will provide a sincere challenge, because they now have the look of a well-balanced unit. Du Plessis adds gloss to a top-order that already houses Henry Davids, Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Aiden Markram.
In the bowling stakes, Dane Paterson is surrounded by a gaggle of quality slow men, and they will have a say in Durban.
The match is crucial for both teams’ ambitions, because they simply cannot afford to fall too far behind.
The reality for the Heat is that they need to start winning their home games. They need to turn Kingsmead into a fortress, before they worry about winning on the road.
“T20 cricket is funny, because you can go on a run. The nice thing is we have six games in the next two weeks, so we can build momentum,” Miller pointed out.
It is a very busy period for the Heat, but they can change their fortunes significantly if they go on a bit of a charge. They have to start that charge against the Rocks, and then they can look beyond that.
To look past the men from the Cape would be fraught with danger, because they are a very dangerous proposition.
The Mzansi Super League may have had a slow, uncertain start, but it is in the meat of the battle now. There is a gap between the top and the bottom, and the Heat simply can’t afford to be at the wrong end.
Nor, for that matter, can the Rocks. That is exactly why tonight’s contest is such a tantalising prospect.
One team will change the tide, while another will sink deeper into the abyss.
* Play at Kingsmead starts at 7pm. Coverage is on SABC 3, from 6.45pm.