The second season of the Mzansi Super League will kick off on November 8 at Johannesburg with the first match between last year’s runners-up Cape Town Blitz and defending Champions Jozi Stars.
A lot of young South African bowling talents like Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla and Nono Pongolo, among others made their names in the league last year whereas international stars like Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Dwayne Bravo went on to show why they are regarded as the best in the business.
The MSL will have a lot of talented bowlers, both South African and international, playing in it through the course of this season as well. So let’s take a quick glance at some of those bowlers who are expected to make the headlines for their teams.
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When we look at Simon Harmer’s overall bowling record in T20s, 68 wickets in 92 matches at a middling strike-rate of 24.3 won’t inspire much confidence. However, he has been a different bowler since the last year or so.
The off-spinner took 10 wickets at an excellent strike-rate and economy rate of 18.9 and 6.92 respectively during Jozi Stars’ title-winning MSL season last year, and he followed that up with a tally of 17 wickets at an outstanding strike-rate of 15.0 during Essex’s title-winning T20 Blast season this year. Seven of these 17 scalps came in the semi-final and the final, and it gives an idea about his knack of turning up in big matches.
The England international is just the kind of signing any T20 outfit would be excited about. Tshwane Spartans’ coach Mark Boucher was no different and seemed ecstatic when the Spartans signed the 24-year-old as their marquee international player.
“He’s come from an environment in which England just won a World Cup, so that can only be good. He’s been in that side for a while. He’s been a performer at county level and for England, I’m looking forward to great things from him over here,” Boucher was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
Curran brings with himself a big reputation as a T20 player. He has accounted for a total of 113 wickets in 94 matches at a stunning strike-rate of 16.7. The pacer has played in most big leagues like the IPL, BBL and the T20 Blast and, thus, brings a wealth of experience with himself. He has been in good form in recent times as well.
His recent exploits include a tally of 20 wickets in the BBL 2018/19 at a strike-rate of 15.5 and 17 wickets in the Vitality Blast 2019 claimed at an even better strike-rate of 11.7. Curran is known for his deceptive slower-balls and accurate yorkers. Moreover, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Curran goes on to pull off a few heists with the bat. Two fifties in this format suggest that he is fully capable of wielding the willow.
The veteran Pakistani pacer is expected to form a lethal pace bowling partnership with Dale Steyn. Riaz has played numerous international matches for Pakistan and his fiery spell against Australia during the World Cup of 2015 is something we can’t forget as well. He was in pretty good form during the World Cup this year too. It was his spell in the death overs that had helped Pakistan win their group encounter against England who went on to be the Champions eventually.
As far as T20s are concerned, he has a wealth of experience in the format. The 34-year-old left-arm pacer has featured in 228 T20s till date and has picked up 266 wickets at a fantastic overall strike-rate and economy rate of 18.1 and 7.13 respectively.
The chinaman bowler is now a familiar figure in South African cricket. He featured in the recent three-match T20I series against India and did pretty well– two wickets at an economy rate of 6.00–against batsmen who are considered to be good players of spin traditionally. Shamsi played in the MSL last year as well and had come up with a superb performance once again. He claimed 10 wickets in a total of nine matches at an excellent strike-rate and economy rate of 17.7 and 6.30 respectively.
Many people believe that Shamsi is yet to reach his full potential as a bowler. The variations and the googles he has up in his sleeve are terrific. It’s only the execution that he needs to work upon. And if he can do that, he may well end up among the top wicket-takers in the MSL this season.
The South African pacer had a pretty mediocre MSL season last year by his standards. He was the highest wicket-taker for Durban Heat in what was a lacklustre season for them but when compared to other bowlers, Abbott’s average of 30.50 for his 10 scalps was pretty poor. His only notable contribution in the previous season came against the Tshwane Spartans when his four-wicket haul had powered them to their first victory of the season.
However, Abbott’s recent form suggests that things could be totally different this season. He finished as the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the T20 Blast this year with a total of 20 scalps at an average of 17.80 and a strike-rate of 13.0. It looks like he has added a couple of variations to his armoury and has also worked on the lengths he bowls which has improved his death bowling by leaps and bounds.
The South African leg-spinner looked rather off-colour in the MSL last season as far as wicket-taking was concerned. He was quite economical going at only 6.75 runs per over but a tally of only four wickets from seven matches is something you wouldn’t expect from a bowler of his calibre. But this season could be quite different for Tahir as his recent form suggests that he is at the peak of his wicket-taking ability once again.
The 40-year-old finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in the Caribbean Premier League recently. He accounted for 16 wickets at a superb strike-rate of 13.1 and a mean economy rate of 5.62. Everyone knows how deceptive Tahir’s wrist-action is. It becomes impossible to pick him and hit him for boundaries unless he is wayward with his line and length.