Lions want to tie up first place
The Momentum One-Day Cup moves into the final week of round robin matches, starting with the the bizhub Highveld Lions hosting the Chevrolet Warriors at Bidvest Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
One might just look at the current log standings and come to the conclusion that the bizhub Highveld Lions have this one in the bag, with a bonus point to boot. But their coach, Geoffrey Toyana, retorted: “there are no easy games in this competition and it is not for us to underestimate anyone.
“It could just take any one of (Ashwell) Prince, Jon-Jon (Smuts) or Davy Jacobs to have a great knock and take the game away from us, and then our backs will be against the wall. I have told my guys to just do the basics right and don't underestimate anybody,” Toyana said.
“We are ready for them and we will not take them lightly, because we do not want to depend on other teams for us to secure top spot,” added Toyana.
The bizhub Highveld Lions are currently at the top of the log, four points clear of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, with two matches left to play. A victory for the bizhub Highveld Lions might just secure them an automatic home final, provided the Chevrolet Knights overcome the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in Bloemfontein on the same day.
The Chevrolet Warriors on the other hand have nothing but pride to play for, and that in turn could be dangerous for the hosts, for as they say, nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal!
The home side have a prolific run scorer in their captain, Stephen Cook, who has amassed 416 runs at an average of 69.33, which includes two half-centuries and two tons. The young bizhub Highveld Lions wicketkeeper, Quinton de Kock, has totalled 259 runs at an average of 37 with one century to his name, which came off just 71 balls against the Nashua Titans at the self same ground.
Gulam Bodi has formed a wonderful opening partnership with Cook with the pair having the highest opening stand to date of 161. Bodi boasts an average of 40.83 with two half-centuries to his name.
Toyana insists that their success is not only built on their top three batsmen, “Cook and Bodi have been good for us up front in the first 15 overs but (Hardus) Viljoen and (Chris) Morris have been unbelievable with the new ball. We have tried to bowl those four-day lengths and it has been very successful for us.”
Viljoen has been a revelation in this campaign as he has claimed 16 wickets at an average of 12.50 with an economy rate of just 4.27. But the big man from Witbank has an injured heel and has not been available for the bizhub Highveld Lions over the last two matches and will “only be available for the semifinal or final,” stated Toyana.
Morris and Aaron Phangiso have supported Viljoen brilliantly this season with eight wickets apiece, and both have an economy rate of under five to the over.
Both teams go into the match on the back of a defeat to the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras. The bizhub Highveld Lions were unable to defend 245 from 37 overs while the Chevrolet Warriors lost by 37 runs on Friday, chasing a target of 284.
The men from the Eastern Cape will want to build on the start that Smuts and Prince gave them against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, as Wayne Parnell and Jacobs, who have been a mainstay in their middle-order, for once failed with the bat. The Chevrolet Warriors have also missed Colin Ingram through injury and had to include rookie, Christiaan Jonker, on Friday.
The Chevrolet Warriors will need to click as a unit, as they did against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in East London not so long ago, if they are to challenge the bizhub Highveld Lions on their home ground and look to add to their solitary victory of the season.
Weather might just play a role in the game as there is a good chance of rain during the course of the day. Play starts at 10h00.