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Cricket | Sunfoil Series

Stephen Cook © Gallo Images

Lions keen to seize the day



The bizhub Highveld Lions have identified Thursday's Sunfoil Series match against the embattled Nashua Titans at Sahara Willowmoore Park as a golden opportunity to surpass the struggling Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras at the top of the log.

Only thirteen points separate the Lions (79.18 points) from the log leaders (92.18).

“One of the keys to our success this season has been our ability to capture twenty wickets. Four of our bowlers are amongst the premier wicket-takers in the competition,” said Stephen Cook, the bizhub Highveld Lions skipper.

“The Cobras won four of their first five matches and the rest of the teams had to play attacking cricket to catch up. Sporty wickets might have contributed to the fact that there were very few draws.

“We cannot control the weather. First prize will be to get a first-innings lead. It doesn't need to be substantial, even a 50-run lead might put pressure on the opposition.

“Obviously we have to take twenty wickets. Most of our bowlers have stepped up to the plate this season. Chris (Morris), Hardus (Viljoen), Imran Tahir and Zander (De Bruyn in the role of allrounder) have been terrific,” said Cook.

The Nashua Titans were in dire straits on 137 for seven and an innings-defeat a real possibility before the weather gods intervened to deny the bizhub Highveld Lions last weekend.

Cook said he was impressed by the focus displayed by his team last weekend. “We won't be complacent. We are motivated, as there is a chance of taking the lead in the competition.”

Henry Davids, the Nashua Titans captain, said the hosts want to salvage some pride after a disjointed and disappointing season. “Not one of our batsmen has managed a century this season, nor have we been able to establish a substantial partnership of 150 runs or beyond.

“The loss of key personnel has been a factor. Ethy Mbhalati is the only experienced bowler we have, and that lack of experience has hurt us.

“We have also allowed games to slip or drift. Two weeks ago we had the Chevrolet Knights in trouble on 190 for seven after we managed 335.

“We did not build enough pressure and allowed Rudi Second to score a double ton.”

Davids has acknowledged the importance of small steps to resurrect the campaign. “We can't defend the title. But we can establish momentum prior to the domestic T20 series.

“At Sahara Willowmoore Park the first two days will be important. I expect good batting conditions. Inconsistent bounce and the spinners might play a substantial role on the last two days,” he added.

According to the websites www.southafricanweather.co.za and www.weather-forecast.com , showers are predicted at Sahara Willowmoore Park for Saturday and Sunday, which might please anxious Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras supporters.

TEAMS:

BIZHUB HIGHVELD LIONS (POSSIBLE): Stephen Cook (capt), Dominic Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Brett Pelser, Thami Tsolekile (wk), Chris Morris, Cliffe Deacon, Hardus Viljoen, Imran Tahir.

NASHUA TITANS (POSSIBLE): Henry Davids (capt), Pieter Malan, Jacques Rudolph, Mangaliso Mosehle, Heino Kuhn, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, Rowan Richards, Ethy Mbhalati, Juan de Villiers.



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