It’s crunch time for the Highveld Lions. They lead the table by 16.68 points and face their only challengers in their penultimate Sunfoil Series match at Kingsmead on Thursday.
A win this weekend will give the Lions their first title for 15 years.
Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana expects his senior players to step up and calm any nerves exposed by the occasion.
‘There will be some nerves but I believe we’ve got an experienced group. We have guys like Neil McKenzie, Alviro Petersen and Stephen Cook who have played here for many years and haven’t won this trophy with the Lions, so it’s a big one for them,’ Toyana said.
‘I’m expecting them to calm things down if we get tight in any situation. Nerves are going to be there but it’s important that we focus on the job in hand with eight days of cricket to go.’
The Dolphins, though, have surged in the latter part of the series with just one defeat in five, and they know that a win on home ground will set up a brilliant battle on the final weekend.
‘It’s a great position to be in – there’s nothing worse than the season winding down without you having something to play for,’ said captain Morne van Wyk.
Warriors v Knights, East London
The Knights are taking the opportunity to rest some players and give some inexperienced players a chance when they take on the Warriors.
Rookie batsmen Michael Erlank and Letlotlo Sesele are being given another chance and all-rounder Bokang Mosena could earn a Knights debut after averaging 32 with the ball and 25 with the bat for Free State in the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup this season.
Shadley van Schalkwyk drops out through injury, while Malusi Siboto and Quinton Friend will take a break.
The Warriors, by contrast, don’t plan to make any such changes: Luthando Mnyaka’s fractured thumb is likely to force their only alteration.
Titans v Cape Cobras, Benoni
The Titans are looking to restore some pride and finish strongly after their season fell away over the past two weeks.
They were realistic challengers for the title, and were pushing the Lions until they faltered against the Cape Cobras and the Dolphins. They trail the Lions by 30 points, but could, if results go their way, overtake the Dolphins.
‘It’s one of those things that you learn from,’ said captain Henry Davids. ‘Two years ago we finished last in this competition, last year we finished fourth, and if we can finish second this time, it will show how we are improving as a four-day team.’
The Cobras, on the other hand, want results just so they can drag themselves off the bottom of the log. After a disastrous start to the campaign they’ve looked stronger in recent weeks, and will be hopeful of overtaking the Knights and the Warriors on the standings.
HOW THEY STAND
|Roelof vd Merwe||14||1||668||205*||51.38|
|DJ van Wyk||14||0||574||175||41.00|