Six South African franchises compete to bag the most coveted South African domestic T20 title - CSA T20 Challenge - starting from November 12 till December 16, 2016.
South Africa's most popular premier T20 tournament - Ram Slam T20 Challenge - will no longer be called so after the tournament's sponsor RAM refused to renew its sponsorship deal. Since Cricket South Africa have not been able to find a sponsor for the event, the month-long competition will run this year under the name CSA T20 Challenge 2016-17 between November 12 and December 16. It will clash with South Africa's international calendar which means most of the South African internationals will not be able to participate for the first-half of the tournament.
Like its predecessors, this 14th edition of South Africa's domestic T20 competition will follow a double round-robin format with six franchises competing for the title. The team that tops the standings after the end of the league stage will automatically advance to the finals while the second and third placed teams will battle it out in the qualifier, the winner of which will make its way to the finals. The venue for the qualifier and the final have not been disclosed as of yet.
Read on for team previews, betting tips, betting odds and our prediction on the CSA T20 Challenge 2016-17:
Led by Justin Ontong, Cape Cobras will be seeking their third title win this year. They were crowned champions in 2008/09 and in 2010/11 and were runners-up in 2005/06, 2006/07 and 2013/14. We predict Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Richard Levi to do well with the bat while Dale Steyn, Dane Piedt, Wayne Parnell will be the key bowlers. Cape Cobras are 4.33 with bet365 to win the tournament outright.
Kevin Pietersen has signed up with them again and will join the team towards the business end of the tournament. He was the second-highest run-scorer last season and will be the key in their batting apart from David Miller and Morne van Wyk. Bowling will be led by Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott and Ryan McLaren. Sunfoil Dolphins won the tournament in 2013/14 and are 5.50 with bet365 to win this year.
They are tournament winners of 2003/04 and 2005/06 under the name Diamond Eagles and runners-up of 2008/09 and 2014/15. Theunis De Bruyn will be captaining the side. Rilee Rossouw, Reeza Hendricks and Petrus van Biljon will be expected to get the runs this year while Werner Coetsee, Quinton Friend and Malusi Siboto will be the key bowlers. VKB Knights are 6.00 with bet365.
Stephen Cook will be leading them who won the competition back in 2006/07 and 2012/13. They came runners-up in 2009–10 and 2011–12. The skipper himself will be leading the charge with bat along with Alviro Petersen and Temba Bavuma. We predict Kagiso Rabada to be the standout bowler for them this season. Highveld Lions are 6.00 with bet365.
The defending champions have been the most successful of all the franchises so far with four title wins under their belt. They have finished as runners-up once in 2012/13 edition. Albie Morkel is set to lead The Unlimited Titans this year and we predict him to do well with the ball. de Kock and de Villiers will be the key batsmen. They are 3.75 with bet365.
Under the leadership of Colin Ingram, the Warriors will be eyeing their second title this year. They won the tournament in 2009/10 and came runners-up in 2004/05 and 2010/11. In addition to the skipper, David White and Clyde Fortuin will be important in their batting lineup. Bowling is going to depend mainly on Simon Harmer, Andrew Birch and Lundi Mbane. The Warriors are 8.00 with bet365.
The Warriors are the only team to have won the tournament only once and with their current team composition, we don't see them advancing to the knockout rounds this year as well. Highveld Lions and VKB Knights have won the tournament twice but their local players will have to step up and perform if they are to make it to the top three.
The Unlimited Titans, Sunfoil Dolphins and Cape Cobras have done well of late and we predict them to take the top three slots at the end of the league stage. Of the three, The Unlimited Titans appear to the strongest side on paper with the likes of de Kock, de Villiers, Morne Morkel and du Plessis on their roster. They also hold the record of the most number of wins in the tournament and have been crowned champions twice in their last five attempts.