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Cricket | RAM SLAM T20 Challenge

Richard Levi © Gallo Images

Cobras want out of the traffic jam



Every contest between the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras has been of critical importance this summer and Friday’s clash between the two franchises in the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge at Sahara Park Newlands will be no exception.

The bizhub Highveld Lions come into the match as log leaders, albeit with their lead trimmed to four points, while the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras are languishing in fifth place.

All is not gloom and doom for the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, however. There is a traffic jam in the middle of the log, and bizhub Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana knows that things can change quickly. "The Cobras are still serious challengers. Just one win for them could lead to a good run. Player for player, our teams are pretty well matched."

The bizhub Highveld Lions have had a few days off, but time off in such a hectic competition is not always a good thing. "It is not easy for the players", said Toyana. "Some of the lads went to Kimberley with the Invitation team, but the squad is ready."

There is no special plan to counter the big-hitting Richard Levi. "There are a lot of players in good form, and we are conducting our preparations as normal." Toyana has the same eleven players available that lost their last match to the Chevrolet Knights, but his squad will be boosted by the return of Chris Morris from international duty.

Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams has had a great run in his first season as a franchise coach, but two successive defeats have put a damper on their chances of qualification for the lucrative Champions League T20. "It is a must-win situation from here on in. We were disappointed to lose to the Chevrolet Warriors on Wednesday, but we need to keep going hard and thinking positively."

As with Toyana, there is no specific plan for players like Quinton de Kock, who has amassed a mountain of runs against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras this season. His unbeaten 126 in Potchefstroom broke all sorts of records and put the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras on the back foot in their campaign. "He is a great talent, but we need to focus on our game, particularly in key periods. The first six overs could be vital."

Pakistani player Azhar Mahmood has brought some all-round depth to the team. "He has made a great contribution, and had a good performance with the ball against the Warriors. He brings a calmness to the team and is a seasoned professional."

Adams has the same squad going into this match. Final selection will depend on the pitch, but Adams is expecting a good track for this match. There is, however, a 60% probability of rain.

The bizhub Highveld Lions hold a slight statistical edge. They have won five of the previous ten encounters with the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, with the coastal team winning four and one tied. However, all four wins have been in the four matches at Sahara Park Newlands, where the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras hold a 21-7 advantage over all opponents.

That being said, the bizhub Highveld Lions have won both the Momentum One-Day Cup and Sunfoil Series matches earlier this season at Sahara Park Newlands. In all formats, the bizhub Highveld Lions have won three matches against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras this season, the Cobras two, and both attempts to play the one-day final ended in no result.

The match is due to start at 6 pm on Friday.

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