Lions, Titans gear up for T20 derby
The bizhub Highveld Lions and the Nashua Titans are gearing up for yet another tough derby clash between the trans-Jukskei rivals with the two teams set to battle it out in a RAM SLAM T20 Challenge match at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.
The Lions enjoyed a wonderful start to their RAM SLAM T20 campaign after a resounding nine-wicket win over the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras with young tyro Quinton de Kock smashing the highest individual score by a South African in T20 cricket.
His knock of 126 not out was also the highest individual total scored in South Africa.
The Titans did not get on to the field for their first match after their clash with the Sunfoil Dolphins was rained out.
Lions coach Geoff Toyana said that the hosts were looking forward to the challenge of taking on their regional foes. “The Titans is a big game for us. We have a good rivalry with our neighbours. We have done well against them this year, so I am sure they will want to show us what they are really capable of,” said Toyana.
Matthew Maynard, the Titans’ coach, was equally upbeat about the fixture.
“It is always a big derby against the Lions. They had an excellent win with Quinton de Kock scoring 126 in what sounded like a magical innings. They are a strong T20 outfit as they showed in the Champions League T20. We beat them in the T20 final last year but that will have no bearing on Wednesday’s fixture at all,” he explained.
Maynard will be wary of what De Kock is capable of while Toyana was effusive in his praise for the 20-year-old’s sparkling innings.
“He (De Kock) was very special (against the Cobras) but I was not surprised. I have seen him do similar things at under-19 level. It was the best hundred I’ve seen since Brian Lara’s century against South Africa at the ICC World Cup in 2003 in Cape Town,” Toyana said.
The Titans did not enjoy the best of times during the four-day Sunfoil Series while they have yet to test their T20 team in a competitive match but Maynard is confident that his charges will be ready for whatever the Lions throw at them.
But he cautioned that it was vital that the team stuck to their game-plan.
“We have trained well and there is a lot of energy in the squad and we are looking forward to Wednesday’s game. We didn’t have a lot of momentum coming out of the Sunfoil Series.
"But we have players like Albie Morkel, Martin van Jaarsveld and Eden Links coming into the squad so we have gone from a relatively inexperienced four-day team to a very experienced T20 team.
“The next two games we will be looking to get two results. For me, at this stage of the tournament, it is how we perform to our plans. Did we get things right? Did we execute our plans to a specific batsman? Execution at this stage of the tournament is the key,” he said.