Stars, Heat reach desperation MSL stage

Pite van Biljon (Gallo Images)
Pite van Biljon (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Jozi Stars batsman Pite van Biljon remains bullish over their Mzansi Super League prospects ahead of their bottom-of-the-table clash against the Durban Heat in Johannesburg on Friday.

The first ball is due to be bowled at 19:00.

Both sides have won just one out of their four games thus far, but as the competition reaches halfway for them, winning will now be moved high up their priority list.

The Stars were handed a four-wicket loss by the Tshwane Spartans in their Gauteng derby on Wednesday, while the Heat slipped to a 32-run DLS defeat at the hands of the Paarl Rocks in their latest match.

Van Biljon, who smashed a dizzy 42 off 13 balls in defeat at Centurion, insists the Stars remain upbeat over their chances in the competition, even adding that there was no desperation from the players that the game at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium was a must-win scenario.

“I don’t think there’s a feeling that we must win,” he explained.

“The change room is still pretty relaxed, the only feeling we have is we must execute with what’s in front of us.

“So, it’s a very good change room, very relaxed. We have a lot of senior players in there.”

The Stars’ five points, which came via one bonus-point win over the Rocks, puts them four points behind the final playoff spot of third, currently occupied by the Paarl side, with the Heat (4 points) a further point behind.

The competition leaders, Cape Town Blitz, in contrast have 20 points from six games.

“You know what, this tournament’s only halfway through now so a lot can still happen,” Van Biljon added.

“Sure, we haven’t had the best of results to have come our way, but our guys are playing really well and if we can string some performances together we can get on a roll.”

If the Stars have problems, those of the Heat seem to be even bigger.

The Durbanites are not only struggling to put results together, but their performances have hardly impressed either.

Key men like Hashim Amla, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen have disappointed, but captain Albie Morkel remains hopeful of a turnaround.

“They are all experienced cricketers and they all know how to turn their game around,” he said. “Not any coach will do it, they (the players) will know how to do it, find that magic moment.

“It might be anything, like a nick through slip or one good shot through the covers for a guy like Hashim to be back to his full form again.”

And like Van Biljon, Morkel insisted that it was still too early in the competition to write them off.

“It is early, but from a personal point of view as the captain, I would like for us to get on to a bit of a roll now,” he concluded.

“Ten games go quickly like that.

“If you can win three or four now and get into the playoffs then anything can happen. So, I do think we need to make a move right away and the next week will be very important for us.”

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