The Highveld Lions will have spinner Eddie Leie at their disposal for Friday’s visit to the Dolphins in Durban, but will otherwise plan to change very little after starting the Momentum One-Day Cup with a flourish. The Lions cruised to an eight-wicket victory over the Cape Cobras in their opening fixture, sauntering home with more than six overs to go, with their hugely experienced top order showing their value as Stephen Cook and Alviro Petersen both scored centuries. Yet as clinical as the pair were in a record-breaking 213-run partnership, it was the Lions seamers who caught the eye with their strangling consistency, which Temba Bavuma expects to continue on Friday.
Bavuma says: ‘Our bowlers strive on hitting back of a length hard, and at Kingsmead where the ball nips around a bit and bounces, it will do us well. So we won’t try to change something that worked for us.’ The only aspect of the performance that did not please coach, Geoffrey Toyana, was the back end of the innings, when Vernon Philander’s explosive fifty saw the Cobras add 77 runs in the last 45 deliveries. Toyana says: ‘Our last six overs were not great, so that’s something that we’ve addressed as a squad and our death bowling is an area that we want to improve on.’
The coach was naturally impressed with young spinner Bjorn Fortuin, who picked up the wicket of Omphile Ramela and conceded just 43 runs in his 10 overs, but with Leie returning from Proteas duty there are no guarantees that Fortuin will make the cut for Friday. Toyana says: ‘We’ll go to Durban and have a look at the wicket before we pick the best side for us.’ After the high point of a bonus-point win over the Knights at the weekend, the Dolphins slumped to a 42-run defeat to the Warriors on Wednesday, leaving coach, Lance Klusener, to lament some soft dismissals.
Klusener says: ‘I’d like to see us be a little bit harder there. Certainly we’re going to have to pick ourselves up come Friday against a very good Lions team.’ The Dolphins have added Daryn Smit to their squad, but are otherwise unchanged.