The Mzansi Super League is the first time that a franchise cricket tournament is being held and by South Africa and has proven its worth in gold with extraordinary cricket on display throughout. With efforts for a tournament of stature failing in 2017, Cricket South Africa have taken each and every step necessary to make it a grand success. With the inclusions of T-20 specialists such as Daniel Christian along with the exciting young talent of the local Proteas on display for over two weeks, MSL has garnered a lot of attention and viewers. From scintillating hundreds to fast and pacy quicks being unearthed, there are have been a number of consistent performers throughout the course of the tournament. We take a look at the top five players so far in the Mzansi Super League 2018.
#5 Jon-Jon Smuts (Nelson Mandela Bay Giants)
120 Runs at a strike rate of 105 (one 50+ score); 7 wickets at a strike rate of 9.43
Jon-Jon Smuts was a part of the 2008 ICC U-19 World Cup where he scored a gritty 58 in the semi-final against a Tim Southee led-New Zealand side. Since then, Smuts has been in and out of the reckoning for the national selections. Captaining the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, Smuts has scored 120 runs and taken 7 wickets in 6 matches - leading the Giants to 4 wins out of 7 with one game being abandoned due to rain.
In their first match against the Jozi Stars, Smuts ripped apart their batting line up with 3 wickets and inhibiting their mighty attacking prowess. This kick-started the Giants' campaign and Smuts hasn't looked back since. With an unbeaten 62 off 52 balls - against a formidable Durban Heat bowling attack, Smuts reserved his attacking nature and took the Giants home in what was a tricky chase on a lively pitch. With Smuts yet to hit full force, Giants would be hopeful for more such performances from their captain in their bid to be crowned the first-ever champions of the MSL.
#4 Janneman Malan (Capetown Blitz)
236 runs at a strike rate of 131.11 ( two 50+ scores)
The Capetown Blitz are miles ahead of its competition! After seven matches, the Blitz top the table with 25 points. A major chunk of this credit must be given to its opening pair of De Kock and young, Janneman Malan. Malan is a 22-year-old, right-handed batsman who has been earmarked for the national side for a very long time. Playing for the Cape Cobras domestically, Malan has scored heavily in all formats leading to a contract to play for the Capetown Blitz in the MSL 2018.
Janneman Malan is currently the highest runscorer for the Blitz and trails behind only Reeza Hendricks in the overall batting charts. His dynamic partnerships with the flamboyant, Quinton De Kock have been destructive and detrimental to their team's fortunes. With two fifties already being registered to his name, Malan has already attracted the national selectors' attention all for himself.
#3 Quinton De Kock (Capetown Blitz )
219 runs at a strike rate of 188.79 ( one 50+ and one 100+ score)
The other half of Capetown Blitz' opening pair, De Kock started off on the wrong note after scoring just six runs against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. But the Jozi Stars and the AB De Villiers led- Tshwane Spartans were not spared with De Kock blasting a 36 ball-74 and a brilliant 108 respectively. What made his maiden MSL 100 even more special was the fact that he had scored almost 60 percent of his side's runs leading them to an emphatic victory over the Spartans. De Kock has also been tidy behind the wickets with an emphatic run-out in the very same match to show for it.
With Capetown staying true to its moniker so far, De Kock's lightning quick starts at the top of the order along with Janneman Malan will be crucial to their cause.
#2 Jeevan Mendis (Tshwane Spartans)
13 wickets at an average of 13.08 with a strike rate of 10.38
Despite the Spartans standing in the fifth position, Jeevan Mendis has arguably been the best bowler in the Mzansi Super League so far. He has not been afraid to toss the ball up and has reaped rich dividends with as many as 13 wickets to his name. Mendis has constantly picked up wickets in the middle phase of the innings leading to a momentum shift towards the end of the game. His best performance came against the Giants where he accounted for four batsmen and robbed them of the momentum in the middle periods. Jeevan Mendis has also been a live-wire on the field with AB De Villiers entrusting Mendis to patrol the deeper areas of the ground.
For the Spartans to obtain a playoff position, they would need more to come from their Sri Lankan all-rounder along with better performances from their batting unit.
#1 Reeza Hendricks (Jozi Stars )
267 runs at a strike rate of 164.81 with two 100+ scores
In spite of under-performing against the Australians, Reeza Hendricks has hit the ground running for the Jozi Stars this MSL. He became the first batsman to score a hundred in MSL history when he scored an unbeaten 104 against Durban Heat in Johannesburg. To back that up, he scored another 100 in the very next match against the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. Hendricks has scored a league-high 267 runs in just four matches with his nearest competitor, Malan playing six.
Mature shots at the start of the innings combined with destructive batting towards the end have been the hallmark of both hundreds Reeza has scored in the league so far. With the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League slated to be held in South Africa due to the upcoming elections, Reeza Hendricks has thrown his name into the hat with his superlative performances in the MSL so far.