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Cricket | T20 Challenge

Titans desperate to halt Lions juggernaut

Nashua Titans coach Matthew Maynard admits that it will be a steep task to try to topple the rampant bizhub Highveld Lions in Tuesday's RAM SLAM T20 Challenge clash at SuperSport Park.

"They've been the form side all season, and it will be a big challenge. What we need are good starts with both bat and ball to put them under some early pressure," he conceded.

While the bizhug Highveld Lions sit pretty atop the standings, the mother of all scraps is developing below them, as the hunt for second and third place continues to bubble along.

"It's a great competition this year, really tight. The Dolphins have also dragged themselves back into the reckoning, so this is a really big week. We have a game against the Knights to finish the round-robin, and we will have a much clearer picture of where we stand after this week," the Nashua Titans coach maintained.

Maynard added that in the heat of the battle, his senior players had shown exemplary control, and he will count on them in the frantic, final stages of the competition.

"We have a good balance between youth and experience, but the thing about experienced players is that they know how to stay calm under pressure. The character we showed against the Cobras was fantastic," he pointed out.

"Alfonso Thomas knew exactly what he had to do in that last over, but I also thought Ethy Mbhalathi's final over was exceptional. It kept the pressure on Ontong and Shah at a crucial stage. Albie Morkel has also been our form player this season, so we will count on them in these late stages."

While the Nashua Titans and others sweat it out, the bizhub Highveld Lions are looking to build momentum as the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge reaches the business end.

"We had a chat as a team ahead of this final phase, and we have basically said we start again from here," bizhub Highveld Lions mastermind Geoff Toyana explained.

"Last season we also topped the table, and we knew that we were already in the Champions League. So our motivation in the final wasn't quite there, and we have to change that mind frame," he challenged.

Toyana said that, after coming out of the blocks fast, his charges were now looking at being more clinical. "We said that we wanted to win all our round-robin games. We have won six so far, so the goal is to win these last three matches, and have real momentum going into the final."

"It's important for us to highlight our season with a trophy, because we have been in very good form leading up to finals, and then not got up. We have to push hard to make sure that we put something into that trophy cabinet again."

Toyana also explained that the bizhub Highveld Lions were not too interested in the developments below them.

"It's a scrap for second and third, and we will obviously have a say in what happens because we will play the Titans, Warriors and the Dolphins in the last three games. But we are only focused on what we are doing," he insisted.

"We will see whom we meet in the final when we get to that. First, we have to worry about the Nashua Titans, because it is a massive game for us."

Play at SuperSport Park starts at 6pm on Tuesday.


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