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SA20’s riveting group stage ends: How did YOUR franchise fare?

  • The SA20 completed its round-robin stage on Tuesday, with the Pretoria Capitals entrenching their status at the top of the table.
  • The tournament, which had a break because of the South Africa/England ODI series, went through an interesting cycle.
  • The semi-finals will see the Capitals facing the Paarl Royals on Wednesday while the Joburg Super Kings will play the Sunrisers Eastern Cape on Thursday.

The group stages of the first-ever SA20 are over, and they did not disappoint. 

Without looking at the points table, here’s how News24 Sport judged the teams:

The team that went according to form: Pretoria Capitals – FIRST 

The Capitals, under Wayne Parnell’s sound leadership, sought destruction wherever they went on their way to finishing at the top. They were five points clear of the Joburg Super Kings and collected bonus points like they were going out of fashion.

They were stymied by Johannesburg and Paarl, then unexpectedly humbled at home by Durban’s Super Giants, but they always looked like the team to beat.

They seemed to have the team for all conditions and this was proven by the fact that they won in Durban, Gqeberha and Cape Town, where the manner of their successes spoke to their adaptability. 

They had a measure of revenge when they beat the Paarl Royals by 59 runs on Tuesday, who had beaten them in Paarl, but they’ll have to do it again on Wednesday when the sides meet at the Wanderers for what is sure to be a grudge match semi-final on Wednesday. 

Home bully boys: Joburg Super Kings – SECOND 

On the coast, they were dodgy, even though they won two from four. They were badly beaten by the Capitals, but take them to the Wanderers, and they play like bulls charging at a red flag at the Bullring.

After their terrible loss to the Capitals at the halfway mark, their coach Stephen Fleming said they had a few things they needed to sort out, especially with their batting. 

They had a few home games to get that right and, largely through the free-scoring form of Faf du Plessis, they’ve made the Corlett Drive-based ground a hard one for visiting teams.

They were the only side that didn’t drop a home game in the tournament and deserve to host a semi-final, with the Sunrisers Eastern Cape being their opponents at SuperSport Park on Thursday. 

The team that’s surprised: Sunrisers Eastern Cape – THIRD

The feeling existed that the Gqeberha-based team wasn’t strong from a recruitment perspective, but they were the perfect example of a team that moved between hot and cold.

They were as unpredictable as the Gqeberha weather, winning games they were expected to lose and vice-versa.

They brought the unpredictability factor to the tournament, and one could never know in which shade they would rock up for a particular fixture.

Finishing third ahead of their more fancied coastal rivals was a testament to their resourceful cricket.

However, they’ll need to step up a gear to beat a Super Kings side that did the double over them in the round-robin stages. 

The tournament’s joker in the pack: Paarl Royals – FOURTH

The Paarl Royals looked like a team that could only really play their cricket in Paarl.

The fact that the Royals only won in Paarl and Gqeberha spoke to how they armed their team for one set of conditions and not the other.

It was similar to how formidable their parent team, the Rajasthan Royals, were in Jaipur, but toothless elsewhere.

That said, they found a way to finish fourth and qualify for the semi-finals, even though they sneaked in despite a heavy loss to the Capitals on Tuesday.

What they do have in their armour for Wednesday’s semi-final is the dangerous Jos Buttler, but he’ll need help from a batting group that while talented, hasn’t always come off. 

The team that didn’t fire consistently: Durban’s Super Giants – FIFTH

From being the first side to make a 200-plus total, to being the first side to make two consecutive sub-100 scores, to scoring the highest team total in the round-robin stage, they veered between the sublime and ridiculous. 

That told the story of a Super Giants side that, packed with all-rounders, found different ways to gel and come apart during the tournament.

Their blistering defeat of the Capitals was one game where everything came together, but did so too late in the competition to have a material effect on the log. 

Two of their home wins out of the five came against Paarl Royal and MI Cape Town, with the weather intervening in the other game.

They’ll need to be smarter with their batting recruitment next season to complement their excellent bevy of all-rounders.

The team that flopped badly: MI Cape Town – SIXTH

The less said about MI Cape Town, the better. On paper, they looked like a very competent side, but when it came to translating that to performance, that wasn’t the case.

They seemed to be a side that picked Highveld batters for coastal combat, and this showed up badly before the tournament moved up to the Highveld.

They had the all-conditions bowlers, but what they didn’t have were the all-conditions batters to navigate what were tricky coastal pitches that proved to be their undoing.  

The crowd that mattered – Gqeberha

The whistle-podu of the Wanderers suited the imposing nature of the ground while the laid-back nature of SuperSport Park and Newlands meant the crowds were always more engaged in the game and the catching.

Kingsmead’s fans finally made some cricket sense to watch games there while Paarl’s heat made things uncomfortable for their fans.

St George’s Park was an Orange-coloured cauldron from start to finish and it was quite the ground to watch the cricket.

The band created an unmatchable atmosphere that was also accompanied by some excellent cricket despite the assortment of surfaces.

It pumped from start to finish and the weather also played ball, something that can’t always be said of Gqeberha.

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