Highveld Lions coach, Geoffrey Toyana, expects his senior players to take up any necessary slack over the last two games of the Sunfoil Series should the possibility of ending a 15-year drought in the competition fuel the anxiety levels. The bizhub Highveld Lions have led the table for most of the tournament and have looked indestructible in its second half, but will still face a test of nerves in what could be a title decider against the Dolphins in Durban on Thursday. Although the Lions have enjoyed plenty of limited overs success in recent seasons – particularly in Toyana’s first term in charge – the coach was still a player the last time they lifted the first-class trophy back in 1999/2000.
Toyana said: ‘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. 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.’ Petersen is likely to return in place of Dominic Hendricks after missing last weekend’s game due to a wedding, but any other team changes would be according to the conditions in Durban. The Dolphins’ effort this season has been no less impressive, given that they made a late start to the four-day competition because of their Champions League T20 commitments.
In spite of that distraction, which has lengthened their season and forced them to play six successive games in the final straight, they trail the Lions by a little less than 17 points, meaning victory in this match would set up a shootout over the final weekend. Captain Morne Van Wyk said: ‘It’s a great position to be in – there’s nothing worse than the season winding down without you having something to play for. Obviously it’s the Lions’ trophy to lose but we’re still in with a chance. I’ve got to compliment the guys for their fitness and commitment, because after four games in a row they’re still looking good. Bar injury we’d love to play with the same team.’
HEAD TO HEAD – Dolphins vs Highveld Lions
Matches Played 21
Dolphins Win 5
Lions Win 7