Smuts banking on home advantage to reach playoff
The Nelson Mandela Bay Giants will be looking to turn it on for their home crowd when they take on the Tshwane Spartans at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (7pm).
The Giants are sitting in third position on the Mzansi Super League cricket standings, with two pool stage matches to play.
A win in their penultimate match against the Spartans could secure them a spot in the playoff stage. This would take substantial pressure off their final match away to the Paarl Rocks next week.
Captain Jon-Jon Smuts knows how telling Saturday’s result could be.
“Home games are always important and our next one is against the Tshwane Spartans on Saturday,” said Smuts.
“That will be a massive game for us. If you can do well at home, that holds you in good stead for the tournament.
“It almost takes the pressure off what would maybe be a must-win game for the last one where we can just go out to play and express ourselves.”
Smuts, who looked impressive with bat in the abandoned match against Durban Heat on Wednesday, is wary of all-comers. Even though Spartans are second-last on the table, the Proteas allrounder knows the danger they bring.
“Pretty much every game left in the competition is a massive game. I said in the last press conference I still think who people deem as favourites are going to be knocked out by some of the teams who are in the bottom half.
“Every squad is a strong squad and in this game, individuals can win you games from nowhere. So, I think there are going to be a few so-called upsets and a lot more excitement to come.”
With the Cape Town Blitz looking good to finish top and thereby claim a final berth in Cape Town, a home semifinal is what the Giants will be targeting.
“At the moment, we are sitting in a nice position, but then again, we’ve got two big games coming up and we need to play well in both. First option is you want to be in the top three. If you can get a home semi or final it’s massive in the competition,” said Smuts.
“But again, if you asked anyone at the start, they were all pretty much saying top three would be great.”
Englishman Jason Roy gave fans a glimpse of what he is capable of in scoring 26 off 16 balls against the Heat on Wednesday and Smuts was impressed with what he saw.
“Look, he played really well, some fantastic shots. He brings some serious X-factor to the team which is really exciting. He can win games by himself, which is something you want to have. I think all the marquee players have that capability, so it’s going to be great to see how he goes in the next few games.”
AB de Villiers has had a lean run in the last two matches, but he will be a massive factor for the Spartans – as will Eoin Morgan.
Giants: Imran Tahir, Jason Roy, Chris Morris, Jon-Jon Smuts, Junior Dala, Christiaan Jonker, Aaron Phangiso, Ben Duckett, Sisanda Magala, Ryan McLaren, Heino Kuhn, Marco Marais, Dylan Matthews, Lizaard Williams, Rudi Second, Carmi le Roux
Spartans: A B de Villiers, Eoin Morgan, Corbin Bosch, Robbie Frylinck, Jeewan Mendis, Theunis de Bruyn, Rory Kleinveldt, Sean Williams, Gihahn Cloete, Lutho Sipamla, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Andrew Birch, Sikander Raza, Shaun von Berg, Eldred Hawken.