Mzansi Super League is a brand new Twenty20 cricket tournament in South Africa. The tournament featuring six teams is scheduled to make its debut on November 16 and will run till December 16, 2018. A total of 32 matches will be played which includes 30 league-stage fixtures in addition to the Eliminator and the Final. The team finishing at the top of the table after the league phase will get a direct entry to the final while the second and third-placed teams will battle it out in the eliminator for the remaining spot in the final that will be played at the home ground of the top-ranked team. The league stage of the MSL 2018 will be played in a double round-robin format with each team set to play every other team twice.
Read on for team previews, betting odds, betting tips and predictions for Mzansi Super League 2018....
Led by South Africa international skipper Faf du Plessis, Paarl Rocks boast plenty of firepower in the batting department. Aiden Markram, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Cameron Delport and Paul Stirling are the others apart from du Plessis who have good reputation as batsmen in white-ball cricket. The team has also roped in Dwayne Bravo, who recently retired from international cricket, as their marquee international player. The West Indian allrounder will be joining Dane Paterson and Tabraiz Shamsi to form what seems to be a pretty decent bowling attack.
Faf du Plessis (c), Dwayne Bravo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Paterson, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Grant Thomson, Paul Stirling, Tshepo Moreki, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport, Eathan Bosch, Patrick Kruger, Kerwin Mungroo
Tshwane Spartans signed AB de Villiers and Eoin Morgan in the player draft as their marquee player and marquee international player respectively. This will be the first tournament for de Villiers after having bid farewell to international cricket and he is going to be the key man for his side when it comes to batting. Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn and Sean Williams also add a fair amount of strength in the batting. The Spartans' bowling will be spearheaded by paceman Lungi Ngidi and he should find able support in Rory Kleinveldt, Andrew Birch and Sri Lanka's Jeevan Mendis.
AB de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Lungi Ngidi, Robbie Frylinck, Jeevan Mendis, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams, Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikandar Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken
With Kagiso Rabada, Daniel Christian and Dwaine Pretorius in their ranks, Jozi Stars have a good-looking bowling attack. Rabada, with his express pace, will play a big role role on these South African quick wickets and will pose a big threat to the oppositions. However, the Stars lack strength on the batting front, especially at the top of the order. There is Chris Gayle on the roster as the team's international marquee player, but apart from him and Rassie van der Dussen, there seems no other batsmen capable of clearing the boundary with ease.
Kagiso Rabada, Chris Gayle, Dane Vilas, Rassie van der Dussen, Daniel Christian, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Eddie Leie, Petrus van Biljon, Duanne Olivier, Ryan Rickelton, Sinethemba Qeshile, Simon Harmer, Calvin Savage , Shimane Alfred Mothoa
The Giants really look like giants on paper in terms of batting firepower with the likes of big-hitters Jason Roy, JJ Smuts, Christiaan Jonker and Chris Morris in the side. Jason Roy is among the world's top ten batsmen in the T20 format and he will play a crucial role in getting his team off to good starts. The Giants appear a little thin when it comes to bowling. Nevertheless, South African bowlers Junior Dala, Ryan McLaren, Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso still make up a pretty decent bowling group. Imran Tahir has been picked as the marquee player and he has the potential to win games on his own.
JJ Smuts (c), Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Junior Dala, Christiaan Jonker, Aaron Phangiso, Ben Duckett, Sisanda Magala, Ryan McLaren, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Dyllan Matthews, Lizaad Williams , Rudi Second, Carmi le Roux
Durban Heat boast plenty of batting class, having drafted the likes of Hashim Amla, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen into their 16-man squad. Amla has been named as the side's marquee player and he along with Miller have the ability to change gears at any stage of the game and can spell trouble for the oppositions if not dismissed early on in their innings. Rashid Khan, the international marquee player, is the x-factor for the Heat. The Afghan spin sensation will find good support in Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Marchant de Lange and Kyle Abbott.
Hashim Amla, Rashid Khan, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Abbott, Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange, Vernon Philander, Brandon Mavuta, Temba Bavuma, Morne van Wyk, Okuhle Cele, Sarel Erwee, Tladi Bokako
JP Duminy had initially been named in the squad but was later ruled out due to injury. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock has replaced him as the team's marquee player and he will be relied upon heavily when it comes to batting. The Blitz do seem short on batting quality and depth with Dawid Malan, Farhaan Behardien and Asif Ali being the only other reputed batsmen in the side. Veteran pacer Dale Steyn will be leading the bowling attack while Dane Piedt and Samuel Badree provide good spin options. Cape Town Blitz have packed in plenty of allrounders with Andile Phehlukwayo being their most expensive signing.
Quinton de Kock, Dawid Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Samuel Badree, Asif Ali, Farhaan Behardien, Anrich Nortje, Janneman Malan, Malusi Siboto, George Linde, Ferisco Adams, Jason Smith, Sibonelo Makhanya, Kyle Verreynne, Dane Piedt
Cape Town Blitz appear the weakest of all the six teams. They clearly lack depth in their batting and will be heavily dependent on the aging Dale Steyn to do the job for them with the ball. Jozi Stars may have a well-rounded bowling attack but they too seem short on options when it comes to top-order batting. And the same can be said for Paarl Rocks who will bank on Faf du Plessis and Dwayne Bravo to perform well each time.
Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, Tshwane Spartans and Durban Heat are the ones we feel will finish in the top three at the end of the league round. The Giants have one of the best batting line-ups in the competition and many of their players are tailor-made for T20 cricket. The Spartans have the AB de Villiers factor in their favor and have the bowling resources that can take them a long way in the tournament. But the one team that stands out on paper are Durban Heat. The quality of Hashim Amla and David Miller paired with the skills of Rashid Khan and Vernon Philander makes this team a real title contender. Since most of their players are capable of contributing with both bat and ball, we feel the Heat have a better chance of winning this inaugural edition of Mzansi Super League.
Final Verdict: Back Durban Heat to win the Mzansi Super League 2018.