With just four rounds of the competition remaining, the Cape Cobras are more than 30 points ahead of the second-placed Highveld Lions on the 4-Day Franchise Series table, and Knights coach Alan Kruger believes the title is within touching distance of their Round Seven opponents.
The Cobras travel to the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein to contest the next match in the series against local side the Knights.
‘There are still four games to go and my feeling is that it’s for the Cobras to lose at the moment. That’s my honest opinion,’ said Kruger ahead of their clash.
‘They’re flying and Ashy P (Ashwell Prince) has done a wonderful job there with his team. A lot of their players are in form and they are looking strong candidates for that title.’
Kruger was the assistant coach to Nicky Boje when the Knights ran the Cobras close in the opening game of the season 2018-19 season, losing by four wickets at Newlands in Cape Town.
Kruger has taken over the coaching reins on an interim basis and is hopeful his side can get the better of the Cape side this weekend.
‘It’s going to take a huge effort from us to beat them,’ he explained. ‘Even though we are all chasing them, everyone has bragging rights and wants to finish as close behind them as possible.
‘We are no different, so we’ll go out there positively and try to beat them. We came close the first game and want to try and go a bit better this time to try and overcome them this weekend.’
The Knights have run most of the top sides close in 2018-19, but still find themselves only fourth on the table.
In the last round, they lost to the Titans, although Kruger was proud of their effort.
‘I thought we were outstanding on the surface we played on, but in the end their experience and the innings of Faf du Plessis in the first innings was a key difference,’ he added. ‘That was the game breaker, so it was a bit disappointing for us to lose. I’m confident we will do better this time.’
Contrary to Kruger’s belief, a humble Prince insisted it was too early to be talking about titles or trophies.
‘I don’t necessarily see it as our title to lose,’ he said. ‘We won four games in a row at the start of the season, so who’s to say that someone else can’t do the same now. That will put them right in the mix.
‘I believe there’s a lot of cricket still to be played and we’re just taking it one game at a time at this stage.’
Nonetheless, his Cobras side have been hugely impressive this season – they have five wins from six – and will be looking to continue that run in the Free State.
‘We did well in the last game (against the Warriors), the only thing disappointing was how we lost wickets in a clump in that first innings.
‘A lot of credit must go to our bowlers and our captain, Dane Piedt, for the way they bowled in the game.’
HEAD TO HEAD: Knights vs Cape Cobras
Matches Played 27
Knights Win 10
Cobras Wins 7
Knights – 623-4 (Bloemfontein 2017-18)
Cobras – 573-8 (Bloemfontein 2009-10)
Knights – 129 (Kimberley 2008-09)
Cobras – 92 (Kimberley 2013-14)
Highest Individual Score
Knights – 203 not out RS Second (Oudtshoorn 2017-18)
Cobras – 189 HM Amla (Bloemfontein 2017-18)
Best bowling in an innings
Knights – 8-38 R McLaren (Stellenbosch-US 2006-07)
Cobras – 7-43 RK Kleinveldt (Cape Town 2008-09)
Photo: Gallo Images