Cape Town – Cape Town Blitz paceman Dale Steyn remains hopeful of reaching the Mzansi Super League (MSL) play-offs ahead of their must-win showdown against table-toppers Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Cape Town on Friday.
Ashwell Prince’s side ended a three-game losing sequence when they beat the Tshwane Spartans in a thrilling game last time out to stay alive in the hunt for the play-offs.
But now with two games to go, they are left with little room for error. They currently sit fifth on the table and with the smallest chance of the five teams in contention of getting to next week’s Qualifier and the subsequent December 16 final.
Ashwell Prince’s men have 17 points from eight games, one fewer than the Durban Heat (18) and two shy of the Tshwane Spartans (19), who hold the key third position and whom the Blitz will face in their last regular-season outing on Sunday.
Nonetheless, veteran Standard Bank Proteas paceman Steyn, who is the top wicket-taker in the competition, insists they are playing well enough to be confident of slaying the Giants.
“I think we’ve played very good cricket to be honest,” he said of their MSL 2.0 campaign thus far. “The three games that we’ve lost, we could have easily won those, as a matter of fact we should have maybe won two out of the three.
“So I don’t think we’ve been playing badly.
“Our position where we are on the log shows a team that hasn’t been doing well, but I actually think we’ve been playing really good cricket.
“We’ve just been on the wrong side of it, just unlucky on one or two little moments in a contest that we’ve lost.
Steyn, who has 15 wickets to his name, was also looking forward to what could be their last match at Newlands, which drew the biggest crowd of the season in the last match there on Sunday where nearly 7,000 fans were in attendance.
He added: “It’s awesome to play in Cape Town. It’s my favourite ground in the world. Honestly, it’s the best place.
“Our last game is on Friday, I’m just looking at the regular season for now, and I’m hoping for a similar crowd. We look forward to ending well.”
With the stakes high for both teams, Giants captain Jon-Jon Smuts does not feel his team is feeling any pressure heading into a game, which for them was not yet a must-win scenario.
However, it was one that should they win, it will guarantee their progress into the play-offs and possibly even secure them top spot should other results go in their favour in the next few days.
“I don’t think we’ve been feeling any pressure to be honest,” he stated. “I thought we played pretty well in Durban (when we lost on Saturday), I just think the Heat were better than us.
“Against the Spartans we had a bit of luck go our way and luckily we made use of it.”
That game he referred to was the last one where a record run chase and brilliant unbroken 86-run partnership by Ben Dunk (99) and Marco Marais (38) helped pull off a stunning win over the Spartans.
“We’ve had two record run chases at St George’s Park for the season already and we’ll take that,” Smuts concluded. “It was a magnificent chase, Ben Dunk and Marco’s partnership was unbelievable at the end, so it was a fine win for us.”
The Cape Town Blitz squad: Quinton de Kock (capt), Wahab Riaz, Liam Livingstone, Dale Steyn, Sisanda Magala, Anrich Nortje, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Janneman Malan, George Linde, David Bedingham, Vernon Philander, Marques Ackerman, Gregory Mahlokwana, Khwezi Gumede.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants squad: Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Junior Dala, Matthew Breetzke, Onke Nyaku, Ben Dunk, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Beuran Hendricks, Grant Thomson, Akhona Mnyaka, Ryan ten Doeschate, Nandre Burger, Dylan Matthews.
– Cricket SA media