Jozi Stars power-hitter Rassie van der Dussen has said the key to his team advancing to the Mzansi Super League (MSL) final will be to have wickets in hand at the back end in their home qualifier against the Paarl Rocks on Friday night.
The Stars take on the Rocks at the Wanderers (7pm) with a place in the inaugural MSL final at stake. The winner will travel to Newlands to play the pool stages winners‚ the Cape Town Blitz‚ in Sunday’s final.
The Stars will hope that lightening does not strike twice after they went down to the same Rocks team by six wickets with three balls to spare when the two teams squared off in the pool stages last Sunday.
Van der Dussen‚ who is the tournament’s leading scorer with 405 runs in 10 innings at 51.25 and is the owner of the most sixes (22)‚ said the Stars have enough fire-power in their batting line up and should have no problems getting past the Rocks on Friday should they set up a solid foundation.
“When we bat well and have wickets in hand in the last 10 overs then anything can happen‚” said Van der Dussen.
“So for us the key is just to set up the innings well, because we know at the back end what the boys can do. That’s our recipe that we want to go with.”
It promises to be a thrill-a-minute affair between the two sides who boast some of the big hitters in the tournament‚ but it is ball in hand where Van der Dussen and company can have the upper hand.
With home conditions suited to pace and bounce at their disposal at the Wanderers‚ the Stars will pin their hopes on speed merchants Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier‚ who blew away the Tshwane Spartans in their last match.
Nono Pongolo will hope to put in another impressive shift after spearheading Stars’ crushing 101-run victory over the Spartans on Tuesday to set up the home qualifier against the Rocks. Pongolo was the last bowler that captain Dane Vilas called on and the Langa-born 29-year-old bowling allrounder ripped through the Spartans’ middle order with a breathtaking career best 6/20‚ the best figures recorded in a T20 at the Wanderers.
It was also the best bowling figures of the tournament.
Pongolo said the most important factor for him is for the team to do well. “We just want to make sure we prepare as best as possible for that playoff game on Friday.”
The Paarl-based Rocks booked a playoff spot with a convincing six-wicket bonus-point win over the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday.
In captain Faf du Plessis and Proteas openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram‚ Cameron Delport‚ Dwayne Bravo‚ Grant Thompson‚ Henry Davids and David Wiese, the Rocks are capable of dimming the Stars’ in front of their own fans.
Australian Daniel Christian scored the quickest half century so far off just 18 balls in the last match as he and his Stars teammate Van der Dussen peppered the stands with an eye-catching display of power-hitting and will again be the man to watch.
● Du Plessis said his side are close to their best cricket but added the Stars will be a different and dangerous outfit. The Rocks though beat the Stars on Sunday‚ a win that kept their playoff hopes alive.
“In this game‚ I felt it’s the best we’ve been in the field in the whole tournament and we haven’t been the best fielding side in the competition‚” Du Plessis said.
“The Wanderers is a different demon because you have to play on the Highveld and there’s the pitch there. Hopefully we win that game and move on to Cape Town.… The Jozi Stars are a very strong and well-balanced side.
“Our bowling plans were probably the best against their batting line-up in the tournament and we managed to put a stop to them.”