With only one team qualifying from a group that consists of both KZN outfits, Easterns, Western Province and Uganda, the competition is going to be fierce and the pressure is going to be firmly on the defending champions on home turf.
“Obviously it is great to be playing at home with that advantage,” Hollywoodbets KZN Inland captain Sarel Erwee said. “But with that said you cannot take any side lightly.
“We have prepared well and the guys are keen to represent their province and represent Inland in Maritzburg this weekend.”
There is something of a new-look to the Inland side that won the Africa Cup last year with the big omission being that of last year’s captain Lefa Mosena.
Despite his absence, the spine of the team remains with the likes of Erwee, Kyle Nipper, Grant Roelofsen, Nduduzo Mfoza, Kerwin Mungroo and Ruan Pretorius back from their successful campaign last year.
Coming into the side this year is Hollywoodbets Dolphins star Cody Chetty who will help bolster the top end of the batting order for the Pietermaritzburg outfit.
Young SA Under 19 star and Maritzburg College pupil Mondli Khumalo is selected for the first time, as is Lwandiswa Zuma, who was frustratingly ruled out for much of last season with injury.
Leading the attack will be the likes of Mungroo, Gareth Dukes and Athi Maposa, who both represented the Dolphins last season, and Mfoza with his left-arm spin was one of the stand-out players of their championship winning campaign.
The KZN Coastal team was disappointed with their 2017 campaign and despite winning the 3-Day Cup last season they will want to put in a better performance this weekend in the senior provincial T20 championships.
“Looking back on last season, our preparation wasn’t the greatest with some guys overseas and others away, so this year the coach made sure everyone was back at the same time,” captain Khalipa Cele explained.
“We are a team that is very together and we do a lot away from the cricket field which I think is good for us.
“We’ve had quite a few team camps and I think that that will impact positively on us going into the Africa Cup.”
Cele has the added experience of having captained the side last year so there are elements of 2017’s campaign that he has learnt from.
“I am going to go into this tournament with a bigger group of players that I can turn to on the field.
“Captaining at the semi-professional level can be difficult because everyone is trying to impress and make that step up, but we all have the same goal for the season so I think we are looking good ahead of this weekend,” Cele added.
The Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal side is stacked with talent with a number of the players having played franchise cricket as well as a Protea in their set-up.
Proteas and Dolphins all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo will spearhead the side this weekend while he is joined by fellow Dolphins players Senuran Muthusamy, Calvin Savage, Eathan Bosch and Smangaliso Nhlebela.
Also on the fringe of the Dolphins are Keith Dudgeon, Zak Paruk and Marques Ackerman.
Amongst the new recruits are the young Matthew Montgomery and Thula Ngcobo.
On paper the KZN Coastal team look like worthy table toppers, however with just one team going through from the group they will need to string four good performances together.
Hollywoodbets KZN Inland get their championship defence underway with a clash against Uganda at the Varsity Oval on Friday afternoon, while Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal begin their tournament with a clash against Uganda at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Friday morning.
Hollywoodbets KZN Inland Africa T20 Cup Fixtures:
Friday 14 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Inland v Uganda (Varsity Oval) – 13:30
Saturday 15 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Inland v Easterns (PMB Oval) – 09:30
Saturday 15 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Inland v Western Province (PMB Oval) – 13:30
Sunday 16 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Inland v Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal (PMB Oval) 13:00
Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal Africa T20 Cup Fixtures:
Friday 14 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal v Uganda (PMB Oval) – 09:30
Friday 14 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal v Easterns (PMB Oval) – 13:30
Saturday 15 September : Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal v Western Province (Varsity Oval) – 09:30
Sunday 16 September: Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal v Hollywoodbets KZN Inland (PMB Oval) – 13:00
Hollywoodbets KZN Coastal Squad:
Marques Ackerman, Zakariya Paruk, Michael Erlank, Thula Ngcobo, Senuran Muthusamy, Keith Dudgeon, Smangaliso Nhlebela, Andile Phehlukwayo, Calvin Savage, Eathan Bosch, Matthew Montgomery, Blayde Capell, Khalipa Cele (Captain) Coach: Roger Telemachus, Ass. Coach: Thokozani Zulu, Manager: Kenneth Mafunga
Hollywoodbets KZN Inland Squad:
Mondli Khumalo, Grant Roelofsen, Kyle Nipper, Athi Maposa, Gareth Dukes, Cody Chetty, Lwandiswa Zuma, Nduduzo Mfoza, Sohail Mahmoud, Kerwin Mungroo, Sthabiso Zungu, Ruhan Pretorius, Sarel Erwee (Captain), Coach: Shane Burger, Ass. Coach: Yusuf Abdullah, Trainer: Jason Greeff
More information can be found at www.dolphinscricket.co.za.