Nelson Mandela Bay Giants coach Eric Simons believes that doing the basics and handling pressure moments better will be key to deciding who wins their Mzansi Super League (MSL) Qualifier against the Tshwane Spartans in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The 2019 edition of the competition has reached the crunch stage with the match between the two teams, who finished second and third on the table, to be followed by a Reconciliation Day Final against Paarl Rocks – winners of the regular season – next Monday.
The Giants and the Rocks were undoubtedly the two best teams in MSL 2.0, with the log positions reflecting exactly that after both ended tied on 27 points, with the Cape side edging ahead by virtue of head-to-head.
Simons feels it so easily could have been the other way, although he is grateful for the Giants just to be involved in the business end of proceedings.
“We’re obviously happy to be in this situation, you know second on the log and with a home match in the playoffs against the Tshwane Spartans,” he said. “I suppose like in any tournament you can look back and go, missed opportunities, what we could have done differently and what we could have done better because that’s what you naturally do as a sportsman.
“We finished level on points as the team that finished top, so you have to be happy. I think just being part of the knockouts, that’s the most important thing.”
The Giants have had the better of the Spartans this season, winning their only completed game by six wickets at the same St George’s Park in PE. This courtesy of a sublime 189-run chase.
With even more at stake this time, Simons concedes that the big moments will be key, whilst he has also warned of the AB factor – one of the world’s leading T20 players AB de Villiers – influencing the game.
“They’re a strong side and any team that includes AB De Villiers will be,” the coach added. “He’s able to win a match on his own and then it’s just not him alone, there’s a number of players in their line-up who are quality players.
“They’ve got a good bowling attack as well, so they’re a well-balanced team, so it’s just important that we do the basics right.
“It’s one of the things we did wrong on Sunday in the loss to the Rocks, we didn’t do our basics right, we didn’t stay calm under pressure with bat or ball and we did that well against them last time.
“They got off to a good start, but we pulled them back with some really good bowling and then we chased a big score by staying calm and sticking to the plan.
“If the team sticks to the plan and stays the calmest in any knockout situation, that’s the team that will generally win.”
For the Spartans, they enter the match on the back of a washout against the Cape Town Blitz – their fifth abandonment of a truncated campaign.
However, they have still managed to reach the crunch part of the season with captain Heinrich Klaasen just happy to be in the play-offs.
“Five rained out games and you’re sitting in a semi-final, it doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “But the boys have played decent cricket in the five matches that we actually played.
“Everyone is now psyched for tomorrow and hopefully we can fire at 100 percent and not the 75 percent that we have been at. I think if we can do the basics well in all three disciplines, then we’ll be okay.”
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.
The Tshwane Spartans squad: AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi, Heinrich Klassen (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, David Wiese, Imraan Manack, Roelof van der Merwe, Lutho Sipamla, Pite van Biljon, Tony de Zorzi, Waqar Salamkheil, Dean Elgar, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Corbin Bosch, Donovan Ferreira.
HEAD TO HEAD – Nelson Mandela Bay Giants v Tshwane Spartans
Matches Played 04
Giants Win 02
Spartans Win 01
No Result 01
|MATCH STATS (MZANSI SUPER LEAGUE)||NELSON MANDELA BAY GIANTS||TSHWANE SPARTANS|
|Highest Score||192/4 (Port Elizabeth 2019/20)||188/5 (Port Elizabeth 2019/20)|
|Lowest Score||137/9 (Port Elizabeth 2018/19)||165/4 (Port Elizabeth 2018/19)|
|Highest Individual Score||99* BR Dunk (Port Elizabeth 2019/20)||65 GL Cloete (Port Elizabeth 2018/19)|
|Best bowling in an innings||2-8 CH Morris (Centurion 2019/20)||4-22 BMAJ Mendis (Centurion 2018/19)|
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