Knights captain Pite van Biljon admits that one of the biggest challenges facing them in the One-Day Cup is how quickly they can switch from the red- to the white-ball format.
The challenge will be even tougher with Van Biljon, who is also their senior batsman, ruled out through injury. At the same time it has created a leadership opportunity for Wandile Makwetu who takes over the role, having previously captained SA at U19 level.
The Central Franchise had a difficult start to the 50-over competition last week when they fell to a heavy defeat away by the Dolphins at Kingsmead.
Now they are preparing to play the Warriors in Bloemfontein on Friday, where they will be hoping for a far better showing against a visiting team that also lost their opening game.
‘Our focus each year is the four-day competition going into a season, because that is how things start off,’ Van Biljon explained. ‘You play half the season first and then it’s a quick transition into white-ball cricket.
‘Whoever lost their first games would feel that they’ve started quite slowly. We’re in that position now and so are the Warriors.
‘And the question for us is: how much can we improve in the week and can we bounce back from that initial loss on Friday?’
The Knights were bowled out for just 115 on their way to a 94-run defeat at Kingsmead, while the Warriors lost to the Cape Cobras by 31 runs via the DLS method in Oudtshoorn.
Van Biljon and his team have not been successful at all in one-day cricket over the past few seasons and the skipper says they are determined to change that.
‘Every competition we play in we want to win, but that goes game for game, beyond that then it goes over by over,’ he said. ‘If you can win each over then you can get close. That is the big target.
‘Last year we had a chance to reach the playoffs, but had a rain-out. That was one of about five rain-outs in the past season, so it’s difficult to judge our squad based on that. So, we’ll be pushing hard this time again.’
Looking ahead to the game at the Mangaung Oval, Van Biljon added: ‘The Warriors in Bloem, it’s a day-night game so conditions are very different to what we had in Durban where it was a day game.
‘It’s a big field there and the ball will skid on probably under the lights. The Warriors also will be a bit changed compared to the red-ball competition, so it will be different; it will be interesting to see.’
Meanwhile, Warriors coach Robin Peterson sees plenty areas where they can improve going to the Free State.
‘It wasn’t an ideal way to start, but that’s fine because it’s a long competition that still lies ahead,’ he said. ‘The one good thing, which is a positive regarding losses, is that you probably learn more about your team. So, we’ll take the lessons.
‘There were a lot of good things like the way we played the spin, which is going to be a big part of this competition. I think we needed more partnerships in the last game, so that’s something we are hoping to add in this game. The batters are aware and so we hope to give a better account of ourselves on Friday.’
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