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Cricket | Champions League T20

Lonwabo Tsotsobe © Gallo Images

Lopsy key part of Lions’ CLT20 plans

Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s experience will be a key factor for the bizhub Highveld Lions during this year’s Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20), Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana said on Wednesday.

Left-arm seamer Tsotsobe joined the Highveld Lions from the Sunfoil Dolphins during the off-season and Toyana believes that the recent recruit will add some much needed international experience to a squad which is a touch light on playing experience in Indian conditions.

The Highveld Lions enjoyed a wonderful run in last year’s CLT20 storming their way into the final before coming unstuck against the Sydney Sixers. However, last year’s competition was held in South Africa while this year’s edition is in India.

The 29-year-old Tsotsobe, a veteran of 51 one-day internationals (ODIs) for South Africa and once rated as the world’s top-rated ODI bowler on the International Cricket Council’s rankings, did not enjoy a great domestic season last year which was curtailed by injury and allegations that he was not as fit as he could have been.

But Toyana said that he only had praise for the way that Tsotsobe had slotted into the Highveld Lions’ squad and that his addition would help to lessen the impact of all-rounder Chris Morris’ absence with Morris set to represent the Indian Premier League (IPL) out Chennai Super Kings in the CLT20.

“Lopsy is doing well. He has been a revelation for us,” Toyana told supersport.com.

“We have read about in his troubles in the papers but since he has joined us he has been superb. He will add value to the squad and is a great replacement for Chris Morris. He knows Indian conditions. Half our squad hasn’t been to India before so Lopsy’s experience will be great,” he added.

Toyana enjoyed a wonderful run during his first season as the Lions’ coach which saw the Gauteng-based franchise win the RAM SLAM T20 competition, share the Momentum One-Day Cup and appear in the CLT20 final and he hopes that his team can take that form into this year’s CLT20 despite the testing conditions they will face on the sub-continent.

“We have played some unbelievable T20 cricket in the last 18 months. The key for us will be to adapt to Indian conditions as quickly as possible.

The other teams have also seen us know. In the past they may not have know about a Quinton de Kock or Aaron Phangiso but now they know about us and they will be coming hard at us. But we will play like with have for the last 18 months, with a smile and enjoying our cricket,” he said.

The Lions’ task will not be easy as they will be grouped with the Mumbai Indians (IPL 2013 winners), Rajasthan Royals (third-ranked team in the IPL 2013), Australia’s Perth Scorchers (KFC T20 Big Bash League runner-up) and a qualifier.

It may well still be pre-season in South Africa but Toyana is confident his team will be well prepared by the time they arrive in India.

“Our prep is going well. We started pre-season in June although a lot of our players have been involved with internationals and SA ‘A’ games so I haven’t had a full squad but those that have been here have worked hard.

“We are going to Potchefstroom next week for a five0day camp before we leave on the 17th. The whole squad will be there except for (left-arm quick) Sohail Tanvir, who will travel from Pakistan.

The Lions have had a few pre-season matches, beating the Unlimited Titans by 127 runs in the 50-over eKasi Challenge match while they hosted the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras for two T20 matches.

Despite losing both games against the Cobras Toyana said that he was satisfied that the Lions “took a lot out of them” and he was very happy with the squad.

The Lions first match in the CLT20 will be against Perth in Ahmedabad on September 23.

Bizhub Highveld Lions CLT20 squad - Temba Bavuma, Gulam Bodi, Quinton De Kock, Neil McKenzie, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ethan O'Reilly, Hardus Viljoen, Rassie van der Dussen, Alviro Petersen, Aaron Phangiso, Dwaine Pretorius, Jean Symes, Imran Tahir, Sohail Tanvir, Thami Tsolekile.


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