Rilee Rossouw and Quinton Friend are both back to boost the Knights for their Sunfoil Series clash against the top-of-the-table Titans starting at the Mangaung Oval on Thursday. The hosts saw their batting line-up torn to shreds by Imran Tahir in their last outing and will be counting on the experience of Proteas’ returnee Rossouw to bolster the top order. Coach Nicky Boje says: ‘You can’t take anything away from Imran, he bowled really well. He bowled us out there and there’s not much you can do if someone bowls like that.’
Friend, meanwhile, is back from injury with the pair coming back set to take the places of.Dillon Du Preez, who has a calf injury, and Pite Van Biljon. Shadley Van Schalkwyk was also injured against the Dolphins, with Tumi Masekela set to take his place in the team. Defeat in their last game has left the Knights in third position after two rounds of games, but Boje is hoping for an improved showing, particularly with Rossouw back.
Boje says: ‘Rilee’s a quality player and will make a difference in any side, not just with the bat, but his experience as a cricket player.’ The high-flying Titans, meanwhile, seem to be riding the crest of the wave. Buoyed by their Ram Slam T20 success last month, they won their opening two matches of the four-day competition to sit top of the pile.
But they still have few things to worry about, according to coach Rob Walter, who says: ‘There’s always areas to work on and improve. In every game you have to strive to get better and we need to work on our ability to execute our plans and maintain our skill levels on the field. With the bat it’s making sure we eradicate any soft dismissals and making sure the opposition have to work for our wickets.’ The Titans are without captain Henry Davids, though, after he took a blow to the eye in training this week.
Qaasim Adams has been recalled from his two-game loan spell with the Highved Lions to plug that void.
With Quinton de Kock and Chris Morris away on national duty, rookie Heinrich Klaasen and Marchant de Lange are expected to be elevated to the starting XI.