Having won their last three Mzansi Super League matches in a row, the Durban Heat square up to two back-to-back matches against the Jozi Stars starting at the Imperial Wanderers on today (Saturday) knowing that they need to win both convincingly to sustain their charge for a place in the tournament play-off match.
The Jozi Heats have enjoyed a resurgence in the second half of the competition after they lost two of their opening five games and rain claimed the other three. Thereafter the Heat have put in three clinical run chases with their third one being a tournament record chase in Paarl on Wednesday.
Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj has been a crucial part of the bowling attack for the Heat this season and with a strong batting line up the team are bullish ahead of Saturday’s clash, but are wary of the Stars line up.
“The team are definitely on a high after the three wins in a row,” Maharaj said ahead of the match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg today. “But we cannot take anything for granted and as the old cliché goes you must beware of the wounded animal.
“The Stars have a strong line up and we know that because they won the competition last year so we will be wary of them. “We are just going to take it game by game and try and ride off the confidence that we have built over the last three games.”
Maharaj has taken on the mantle of opening the bowling in the competition but he is ready to face any situation. “I enjoy taking the new ball because it is an opportunity to pick up wickets early but I make sure that I am ready for any situation. “It’s important that you are ready to take the ball whenever and that’s what is exciting about T20 cricket,” he added.
This weekend’s trip to Johannesburg will give the Durban Heat a chance to put pressure on the top three teams in the tournament and another win would put them right into the mix ahead of the return match with the Stars at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium on Tuesday next week.
After their two early losses the Heat side has managed to put together a strong foundation reliant on the strong top half of the batting order.
Four of the top five have all registered half centuries with Alex Hales striking a match-winning 97 not out against the Rocks while David Miller has been consistent throughout the competition.
Miller has notched up 184 runs in the competition so far and has the highest average for anyone batting five times or more in this year’s MSL.
Impressively Wihan Lubbe has the second-highest strike rate of the competition after six innings. The fluent left-hander has been scoring at 184 runs per 100 balls thus far and has scored 175 runs with a top score of 83.
With the ball, Maharaj has been the shining light for the Heat with an economy rate of just over six and a half runs to the over.
Malusi Siboto leads the way with wickets taken, bagging seven wickets so far in the competition and shining with the ball in the pressure overs at the end of the innings.
Defending champions Jozi Stars, yet to win a game from their eight outings this season, have got only two points against their name in the points table, courtesy a washed-out game against Tshwane Spartans. The team will only be playing for pride. There will be high hopes from seasoned pro-Shoaib Malik, who has arrived to replace Chris Gayle.
The match at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg gets underway at 4:00 pm India time. Fans can catch the action LIVE and Exclusive on SONY SIX & SONY SIX HD. The feed will also be streamed on SonyLIV.