The fifteenth edition of South Africa's domestic twenty20 tournament is set to replace the recently postponed T20 Global League and is scheduled to run from November 10 till December 16, 2017. This year as well, there will be six participating teams and the tournament will be played in a double round-robin format. A total of 33 matches will be played during the league stage and the top four teams will advance through to the knockouts comprising two semi-finals and the final.
Read on for team previews, betting tips, odds and prediction for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2017....
The Titans are the winners of the previous season. They defeated the Warriors by six runs in the final and they even won the finals in 2015 when they recorded a convincing victory against the Dolphins. This means that the Titans have won the competition back-to-back and with five title wins in the bag, they are the most successful team of the tournament. Led by Aiden Markram this season, the team boasts plenty of class in the likes of AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar.
Aiden Markram (c), Albie Morkel, Henry Davids, Daniel Sincuba, Chris Morris, David Wiese, Farhaan Behardien, Grant Thomson, Grant Mokoena, Heino Kuhn, Jonathan Vandiar, Heinrich Klaasen, Junior Dala, Malusi Siboto, Lungisani Ngidi, Morne Morkel, Rowan Richards, Qaasim Adams, Shaun von Berg, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar
Cape Cobras have won the tournament three times in the past and have also finished runners-up three times, making them one of the more consistent sides in the history of the competition. The team last won the title in the 2014-15 season when they beat the Knights by 33 runs in the final at their home ground. Last year, the Cobras managed to win just three out of their ten league matches to finish fourth on the points table. However, under the leadership of Dane Piedt and with the likes of Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander, Wayne Parnell and JP Duminy on their roster, Cape Cobras look well set to go the distance this time.
Dane Piedt (c), Justin Ontong, Aviwe Mgijima, Andrew Puttick, Beuran Hendricks, Zubayr Hamza, Dane Paterson, Wayne Parnell, Tshepo Moreki, Vernon Philander, Stiaan van Zyl, Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt, Omphile Ramela, Keegan Petersen, Lizaad Williams, Jean-Paul Duminy, Jason Smith, Dane Vilas, Hashim Amla, George Linde, Kieron Pollard
Under the moniker Diamond Eagles, they had the won the tournament back in 2003-04 (the inaugural edition) and then a couple of years later in 2005-06. But since then, the Knights have not been able to put their hands on the trophy. Their best performance in recent times came in the 2014-15 season when they finished runners-up, losing to the Cape Cobras by 33 runs in the final. VKB Knights ended up at the bottom of the standings last year and though they may have a few quality players in the side, they will still have to be on top of their game to make it to the knockouts.
Theunis de Bruyn (c), David Miller, Corne Dry, Diego Rosier, Duanne Olivier, Dillon du Preez, Dylan Stanley, Marchant de Lange, Letlotlo Sesele, Mbulelo Budaza, Patrick Botha, Michael Erlank, Petrus van Biljon, Robin Peterson, Rilee Rossouw, Rudi Second, Tumelo Bodibe, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Werner Coetsee
The Dolphins won the tournament in the 2013-14 season when they beat Cape Cobras by 2 runs in a thrilling final. They also had a fantastic season in 2015-16 when they finished runners-up after losing to the Titans by 7 wickets in the final. Last year however was a very disappointing season for them as they could only win three out of their ten league matches, as a result of which they finished fifth on the points table. This year, the Dolphins will be captained by Khaya Zondo. Some of their key players include Imran Tahir, Morne van Wyk, Keshav Maharaj and Andile Phehlukwayo.
Khaya Zondo (c), Kevin Pietersen, Tshepang Dithole, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Robbie Frylinck, Sibonelo Makhanya, Prenelan Subrayen, Mthokozisi Shezi, Keshav Maharaj, Imraan Khan, Daryn Smit, Divan van Wyk, Daryn Miles Dupavillon, Morne van Wyk, Craig Alexander, Andile Phehlukwayo, Cameron Delport, Calvin Savage, Cody Chetty, Imran Tahir
The Lions are the two-time champions with title wins in 2006-07 and 2012-13 seasons. They also have happy memories of the 2009-10 and 2011-12 seasons when they went on to finish as runners-up on both the occasions. The team put up a good performance last year as well, finishing third on the points table after securing five wins in ten league matches. They however lost to the Warriors in the qualifier and could not reach the final. This season, Highveld Lions will be skippered by Stephen Cook. Kagiso Rabada, Aaron Phangiso and Dwaine Pretorious are some of the marquee players in the side.
Stephen Cook (c), Craig Alexander, Bjorn Fortuin, Dominic Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Beuran Hendricks, Carmi le Roux, Wihan Lubbe, Mangaliso Mosehle, Wiaan Mulder, Aya Myoli, Aaron Phangiso, Nono Pongolo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Omphile Ramela, Yaseen Valli, Nicky Van Den Bergh, Rassie van der Dussen, Hardus Viljoen
The Warriors came runners-up in the previous season as they could not overcome the Titans in the final game. The team won the tournament in 2009-10 when they comfortably defeated the Lions in the final. They have also come runners-up on two other occasions - in the 2004-05 and 2010-11 seasons. Now under the leadership of JJ Smuts, the Warriors will look to replicate their performance from the 2016 season and will bank on players like Colin Ackermann, Andrew Birch and Michael Price who played a key role in the team's success last time.
JJ Smuts (c), Andrew Birch, Ayabulela Gqamane, Basheeru-Deen Walters, Chris Jonker, Clyde Fortuin, Kyle Abbott, Lesiba Ngoepe, Maphelo Nqolo, Michael Price, Ngazibini Sigwili, Simon Harmer, Sisanda Magala, Thandolwethu Mnyaka, Yaseen Vallie, Colin Ackermann, Colin Ingram, David White, Gihahn Cloete
Multiply Titans are the most consistent and successful team in the competition. Several premium players of South Africa have been recruited which makes this team a hot favorite amongst the bookmakers to win the Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2017 at odds of 2.75 on Bet365. Cape Cobras are another strong contenders for the title this year with plenty of seasoned campaigners in the side and Bet365 is offering a 4.50 price on them to win the tournament. While the VKB Knights and HollywoodBets Dolphins are both at 6 with the same bookmaker, the Highveld Lions and the Warriors have been set at odds of 7 and 11 respectively. Betfair has all the teams currently priced at 1.01 each.
Multiply Titans are the strongest contenders for this year's title. They are the reigning champions since the last two seasons and they have been the most consistent of all the teams in the tournament. They also appear to have the strongest set of players on paper and reflect a nice balance too. So considering their past record and current squad, we feel the Titans have every chance to complete their hat-trick of title wins.