bizhub Highveld Lions coach Enoch Nkwe and his World Sports Betting Cape Cobras counterpart Ashwell Prince admits it is crunch time for their struggling teams as they prepare to face off in a critical Momentum One-Day Cup outing in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The two are locked on eight points apiece and in fourth and fifth on the table respectively heading to the game at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.
Between them they have managed only three wins in 11 matches in the 2018/19 campaign, a disappointing return from two of South Africa’s traditional powerhouse franchises.
Nkwe, whose side have played the extra game, feels the remaining four games will be critical to their challenge. “Every game is going to be a crunch game for us from here,” he said. “We, all of us at Lions cricket, have committed to trying to win the next four.
“We don’t have much of a choice really if we want to get to the play-offs.
“There’s certain areas we haven’t been so good at in the competition thus far, so we’ve worked hard on them and hopefully it comes off.”
Despite their position, Nkwe says his side, winners of the first-class competition already this season, remain in good spirits. “The morale is good,” he explained. “We’ve played some good cricket, especially in the batting department where we’ve managed to play our way even in tough situations.
“We’ve managed to play how we want to and still got very close. There’s a lot of positives and we still believe we can make it to the knockout stages.”
The Lions coach acknowledges they will be up against a determined Cobras outfit. “They’re in a similar position of having to try and win every single game,” Nkwe added. “They’ve got a good outfit as well and you can never write them off. We don’t underestimate any one and we won’t be doing that tomorrow.”
After facing the Cobras, the Lions travel to the bottom-of-the-table VKB Knights less than 48 hours later.
Prince, meanwhile, hopes his Cape side, who are also in action away at the Hollywoodbets Dolphins on Saturday, can get their white-ball season going properly with a result on the Highveld.
“Unfortunately, it’s been a bit stop-start in the competition, so we’re obviously looking to try and get a bit of momentum by winning a couple of games,” he admitted. “It’s a big weekend for us and hopefully we can get some wins behind us.”
Even though they are on the road for both games, Prince is not too fussed, adding: “We’ve been better away from home compared to when we have been at home.”
The Lions squad is: Temba Bavuma (capt), Nandré Burger, Bjorn Fortuin, Dominic Hendricks, Wihan Lubbe, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso, Nono Pongolo, Delano Potgieter, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rapulana, Ryan Rickelton, Malusi Siboto, Nicky van den Bergh
The Cobras squad is: Pieter Malan, David Bedingham, Tladi Bokako, Zubayr Hamza, Rory Kleinveldt, George Linde, JP Duminy (capt), Janneman Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Akhona Mnyaka, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Dane Paterson, Dane Piedt, Kyle Verreynne.
Hashim Amla is not available for family reasons.
HEAD TO HEAD – bizhub Highveld Lions v World Sports Betting Cape Cobras
Matches Played 31
Lions Win 08
Cobras Win 19
No Result 04