The only Division One teams to have tasted victory in round one, the Central Gauteng Lions and the EP Warriors, will face off in round two of the 4-Day Series that gets under way on Friday.
It is one of seven matches taking place from 5-8 November across Division One and Two, with all the games streamed live on SuperSport’s YouTube channel.
Along with the clash at St George’s Park, the Boland Rocks will be hosting Western Province at Boland Park while the Free State Knights take on the North West Dragons in Potchefstroom.
The other Division One game of the weekend involves the confident KZN Dolphins, who will be looking to build on their impressive rain-interrupted draw with WP in round one when they face the Northerns Titans in Centurion.
In round one, the Lions produced a clinical performance at home against the Dragons, defeating them by an innings and 72 runs, with wicketkeeper-batter Ryan Rickelton (159 off 230 balls) and Malusi Siboto (51 off 52 balls, and 1-16 and 4-21 with the ball) starring.
“We are very happy that we got the season off to a good start,” said Lions coach Wandile Gwavu. “It’s always important for the morale and the confidence of the group that, at the beginning of the season, you get off to a good start and we definitely did that. It was also special that it happened at home. We have played some really good cricket in the past here at the Wanderers and may it continue to be like that.”
The Warriors had a thrilling finale to their season-opening game, clinching a one-wicket victory over the Titans on the morning of the final day’s play at Centurion, where it needed heroic low-order resilience to bag the Gqeberha-based side the win.
“What I am pleased the most about that win was more the conversations around coming into the game and guys being challenged in terms of their skill set, which they have really taken on board,” said Warriors head coach Robin Peterson.
“It was great to see them go and execute, especially with ball in hand for periods of time. Of course, we can always have improvements but that’s what I was most pleased about. That and challenging our batters, in conditions where they haven’t grown up in, to go and play, make a plan, and dominate.
“It was a true team performance to get us over the line.”
These two sides last met in a cross-pool game in last season’s franchise four-day competition, with the Lions coming out on top in a high-scoring affair when the Warriors fell short by 76 runs while in pursuit of a mammoth 513 for victory.
Peterson pointed to the opposition’s experienced coaching staff as a strength, stating: “The Lions are a good team, they have had a lot of additions to their management. I think JP Duminy is there, Prasanna Raman, the data analyst who was with the Proteas, Piet Botha as a bowling consultant, who was with SA A, so the management is beefed up and they’ve got a lot of experience in their corner, so they will be a tough challenge.
“Playing a team like the Lions, whether they won or lost, you know they going to have a good XI to put on the park. We just hope it’s a good game and we get some good weather this weekend where we can see the game last four days. They will be a good outfit, but we are also prepared and quietly confident going into this game.”
Gwavu is excited by the prospect of playing the Warriors at St George’s Park considering their recent record against the Eastern Cape side, while also emphasising the importance of looking inward and striving for improvement.
“It’s always been really good games [against the Warriors],” the Lions coach noted. “I remember we went there in the past three years, playing at St George’s twice and we have managed to get a positive result on both occasions in 2018 and last season, so we are definitely going there with a bit of confidence behind our backs and looking forward to it.
“Our full focus is on improving our skills, we did play some good cricket [in the first game] but one of the things we pride ourselves in is always looking for improvement, both with the batting and bowling, as well as the fielding.”
4-Day Series Round 2 fixtures (5-8 November):
Boland Rocks vs Western Province (Boland Park, Paarl)
EP Warriors vs Central Gauteng Lions (St George’s Park, Gqeberha)
North West Dragons vs Free State Knights (JB Marks Oval, Potchefstroom)
Northerns Titans vs KZN Dolphins (SuperSport Park, Centurion)
South Western Districts vs Mpumalanga Rhinos (Recreation Ground, Oudtshoorn)
Northern Cape Heat vs KZN Inland Tuskers (Kimberley Oval, Kimberley)
Eastern Storm vs Limpopo Impalas (Willowmoore Park, Benoni)
Division One log
|1.||Central Gauteng Lions||1||1||0||0||23.74|
|5.||Free State Knights||1||0||0||1||13.16|
|8.||North West Dragons||1||0||1||0||3.18|
Division Two log
|1.||KZN Inland Tuskers||1||1||0||0||26.02|
|2.||Eastern Cape Iinyathi||1||0||0||1||13.38|
|5=||Northern Cape Heat||0||0||0||0||0|
|5=||South West Districts||0||0||0||0||0|