Assistant coach Werner Coetsee admits that how a team finishes a competition is always more important than the way they start as the Knights prepare for their penultimate One-Day Cup regular-season outing against the Lions in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
The central franchise made a woeful start to their campaign when they failed to win any of their opening four games to sit rock bottom, but three wins from their next four matches have had them rising to fourth and they now have a real chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
They come up against a visiting team that still has the chance of topping the table, although the Lions must win their last two matches to have a chance of doing that.
For the Knights, though, the focus is on building on what they have done in recent games. Twin wins this week will secure them a place in the top four.
‘I think that’s the most important thing – how we finish rather than how we start,’ Coetsee said. ‘I think what is very good at this stage is that it looks as though there’s different guys in every game that you see putting in match-winning performances.
‘It’s no longer one guy that we have to rely on; there’s more and more guys in the team putting up their hands with strong performances.’
The entire top six has been shining with the bat, while Mbulelo Budaza, Shaun von Berg and on-loan seamer Ottneil Baartman have been doing the business with the ball. They are further bolstered for this game with the return from injury of SA U19 star Gerald Coetzee.
The Lions lost their last match when they went down to the Titans on Sunday, but Coetsee insists they were not worried at all about what was happening to other teams outside their circle.
‘The Lions are a good side, but our big focus for this game and the last one is massively on us and the way we perform,’ he added. ‘We have to take one game at a time, continue to play good cricket and hope to get into those playoff places.
‘We know what we have to do, and we’ll be trying to do that against the Lions.’
For the Lions, their strong start to the campaign has been slightly undone by back-to-back defeats in their last two matches.
Like most teams in the competition, they too have been heavily hit by national call-ups, but coach Wandile Gwavu insists that it should not be an excuse for his side, especially with so many talented players within their pool.
‘There’s always an opportunity for youngsters in Joburg because there are really good players around, so I’ve been really pleased with the youngsters that we have around and that have come into the side,’ he stated. ‘They are learning all the time and will only get better the more opportunities we give them.’
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