Maharaj leads KZN into Africa T20 Cup knock-out battle

In Keshav Maharaj KwaZulu-Natal have a new captain at the helm ahead of this weekend’s much anticipated semi-finals and final of the inaugural Africa T20 Cup in Bloemfontein as the left-arm orthodox and powerful lower order batsman takes over the reins from David Miller.

With Miller on national duty with the Proteas in India, Maharaj takes over the captaincy ahead of his side’s semi-final clash against a strong Northerns line-up while his Sunfoil Dolphins team mate Cody Chetty replaces Miller in the KZN squad.

Young Suncoast Dolphins Academy member Bruce Kerr replaces the injured Mishkal Ramsaroop in the only other change to the squad that topped the Pool C table during the group stage.

Having only recently returned from a stint in India himself where he was a member of the South Africa ‘A’ squad, Maharaj’s experience at this and franchise level counted greatly in KZN’s round robin efforts as he shone with both bat and ball.

The newly named captain amassed 88 runs in his three pool stage innings, without losing his wicket and at a strike rate of 220.00 while his four over spells of 2/15 and 3/13 were pivotal in KZN’s victories over Eastern Province and Namibia respectively.

KZN’s stand-out pool stage performer will now hope to continue his run of good form into the knock-out stages this weekend as he looks to lead his young charges to victory.

However, if KZN are to overcome a Northerns outfit that boasts the likes of Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruin and Aiden Markram and challenge to become the first name etched onto the competition’s trophy and the R300 000 winner’s cheque, then the side’s new skipper will need to be well supported.

Squad newcomer Chetty adds depth to the side’s top order in place of Miller while Maharaj’s fellow pool stage top performers Cameron Delport, Andile Phehlukwayo, Senuran Muthusamy and Sibonelo Makhanya will once again need to impress.

The young fast bowling trio of Brandon Scullard, Jesse Smit and Craig Kirsten also showed glimpses during the pool stage of the encouraging signs that have many of the region talking excitedly and they too will hope to contribute to KZN’s title aspirations.

KwaZulu-Natal take on Northerns in Saturday, 3 October’s first semi-final which takes place at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein at 10h00 while KZN’s fellow east coasters KwaZulu-Natal Inland face hosts Free State at the same venue at 14h00.

The Africa T20 Cup final will then be contested by the two semi-final winners at 10h00 on Sunday, 4 October, also at the Mangaung Oval.

KwaZulu-Natal squad:
Keshav Maharaj (Captain), Khalipha Cele, Cody Chetty, Cameron Delport, Rabian Engelbrecht, Bruce Kerr, Craig Kirsten, Sibonelo Makhanya, Senuran Muthusamy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jason Oakes, Brandon Scullard, Daniel Sincuba, Jesse Smit, Roger Telemachus (Coach)