FILE - Jozi Stars captain Temba Bavuma will be hoping his team can pull off their first win of the Mzansi Super League season. Photo: Muzi Ntombela BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Jozi Stars have played five matches and lost five matches in the Mzansi Super League this year. “No one wants to be in this position, but the fact is we haven’t played our best cricket, we keep finding ways to lose games,” said head coach, Donovan Miller. 

He’s right. He’s also stating the obvious, but that’s what tends to happen when teams get on losing streaks like the Stars have had through the first half of a competition which they won last year. 

The most glaring individual failure has been the marquee international signing, Chris Gayle. The 40 year old has looked the very opposite of a boss in this year’s tournament, scoring just 47 runs in five innings. Last Friday in Paarl he was dropped down the order to no.3 and scored one. He also dropped a catch. 

Meanwhile in another dismal performance with the bat, one of the Stars’ best batsmen, the skipper Temba Bavuma, didn’t even face a ball, something Miller mentioned but couldn’t explain. . 

One thread of hope he and the Stars are clinging to, is last year’s final log. That shows that the Paarl Rocks claimed the final play-off spot having won five times. To match that, the Stars will have to produce a turnaround of epic proportions.

They face their provincial neighbours the Tshwane Spartans at the Wanderers on Sunday, and Miller is hoping that home conditions and the fact that a derby adds a little extra edge, might prove inspirational to his players. “We have to find a way to win,” he said.

One way would be to get more support for Reeza Hendricks - the tournament’s top run-scorer - and Bavuma it’s third highest. Rassie van der Dussen was one of the stand out performers last year, but this season he’s only scored 82 runs in total. No other Stars batsmen has an aggregate over 50. 

The Spartans meanwhile, have had their competition upset by rain - with three of their four matches abandoned due to the weather. Nevertheless they have had some good very good performances by their opening batsmen Dean Elgar and Theunis de Bruyn, whose last two partnerships have been 104 and 81 respectively. The big star, AB de Villiers, like Gayle, has yet to set this tournament alight. The need for him to do so is not as urgent as it is for someone in the home team today. 

The match starts at 2pm. 

Tshwane Spartans: AB de Villiers, Tom Curran, Lungi Ngidi, Theunis de Bruyn, Lutho Sipamla, Tony di Zorzi, Morne Morkel, Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Roelof van der Merwe, Pite van Biljon, Waqar Salamkheil, Dean Elgar, Wiaan Mulder, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corbin Bosch

Jozi Stars: Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle, Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Daniel Christian, Temba Bavuma (capt), Duanne Olivier, Simon Harmer, Ryan Rickelton, Aaron Phangiso, Lizaad Williams, Sinethemba Qeshile, Nono Pongolo, Gerald Coetzee, Delano Potgieter, Dane Paterson.

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