The Ram Slam T20 Challenge is a popular premier Twenty20 cricket tournament held annually in South Africa. Incepted in 2003/04, the tournament returns for its 14th edition this year with six participating franchises - Cape Cobras, Sunfoil Dolphins, VKB Knights, Highveld Lions, The Unlimited Titans and the Warriors. Until 2010/11, the tournament was known as the Standard Bank Pro20 Series and as the MiWay T20 Challenge for the 2011/12 season.
The Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2016/17 is set to feature a total of 32 matches including a qualifier and a final. This month-long competition will be played between November 12 and December 16. The competing teams will be playing in a double round-robin format, which means each team will play every other team twice during the league stage - one on its own home ground and one on the other's. The team that tops the points table at the end of the league stage will automatically qualify for the finals. The second and third positioned teams will play the qualifier and the winner will advance to the finals.
Here’s a brief preview of the six participating teams in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2016/17:
The two-time champions won their first title in 2008/09 and the second one after two years in 2010/11. They came runners-up for two consecutive seasons in 2005/06 and 2006/07, and then recently in the 2013/14 season.
Home ground: PPC Newlands
Captains: Omphile Ramela, Justin Ontong
Key Batsmen: Hashim Amla, J P Duminy, Richard Levi
Key Bowlers: Dale Steyn, Dane Piedt, Wayne Parnell
They are the winners of the 2013/14 edition. They finished as runners-up in 2007/08 and last year in 2015/16.
Home ground: Kingsmead Cricket Ground
Captain: Morne van Wyk
Key Batsmen: Imraan Khan, David Miller, Morne van Wyk
Key Bowlers: Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott, Ryan McLaren
They won the tournament back in 2003/04 and 2005/06 under the name of Diamond Eagles. They were runners-up in the 2008/09 and 2014/15 editions.
Home grounds: Mangaung Oval, Diamond Oval
Captain: Theunis De Bruyn
Key Batsmen: Rilee Rossouw, Reeza Hendricks, Petrus van Biljon
Key Bowlers: Werner Coetsee, Quinton Friend, Malusi Siboto
They have won the title two times so far, once each in 2006/07 and 2012/13. In seasons 2009–10 and 2011–12, they finished as runners-up.
Home grounds: Wanderers Stadium (main), Senwes Park
Captain: Stephen Cook
Key Batsmen: Stephen Cook, Alviro Petersen, Temba Bavuma
Key Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
They are the defending champions and the most successful team, winning the competition four times. They lifted the trophy in 2004/05, 2007/08, 2011/12 and 2015/16. They came runners-up in 2012/13.
Home ground: SuperSport Park
Captain: Henry Davids, Albie Morkel
Key Batsmen: AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar
Key Bowlers: Morné Morkel, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Albie Morkel
They are the only team to have won the tournament only once. They finished winners in 2009/2010 and runner-up in 2004/05 and 2010/11.
Home ground: St George's Park, Buffalo Park
Captain: Colin Ingram
Key Batsmen: Colin Ingram, David White, Clyde Fortuin
Key Bowlers: Simon Harmer, Andrew Birch, Lundi Mbane
The Ram Slam T20 Challenge tournament has seen a new champion emerge in each of its last four seasons. The Unlimited Titans, Cape Cobras and Sunfoil Dolphins have put up good performances in the tournament's recent past and are most likely to take up the top three positions at the end of the league stage.
The Unlimited Titans have won the title four times, which is the most by any team in this tournament. They have lifted the trophy twice in the last five seasons and are winners of the previous season. With the likes of de Villiers, de Kock, du Plessis and Morne Morkel in their squad, they appear to be the strongest team on paper.
Although Cape Cobras and Sunfoil Dolphins also feature quite a few reputed South African international players, we feel that defending champions The Unlimited Titans are strong favorites to win their fifth title.
You can watch the entire season of Ram Slam T20 Challenge 2016/17 live on the internet. Get ball-by-ball live coverage online of every single match of the tournament. Visit betfair and bet365 for free live streaming of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches. Catch the action live and place your bets as the match unfolds.
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