Johannesburg – The Cobras go into the heart of the den on Saturday, as they seek to burst the bubble of bliss currently floating in Bloemfontein, after the Knights won a thrilling Sunfoil Series competition last weekend.
The Knights, with a bold strategy, overtook the Titans in the final round of fixtures, to secure the first piece of silverware for the franchise in seven years. Theunis de Bruyn and his men quite rightly celebrated accordingly, but they will know that the Cobras themselves are a team on the up.
Ashwell Prince’s men fought back from being stone last at the midway stage of the four-day stuff, to finish in a very credible third, and they must approach the Momentum One-Day Cup with growing confidence.
The most revealing aspect of the Cobras’ play in the past few weeks has been the sense of togetherness. After each day’s play, they contest a very serious game of football, which incorporates players and management. That rekindled team spirit will surely stand them in good stead, and some big players have also found their best touch.
Stiaan van Zyl helped himself to a first-ever pair of centuries in the same match, while the reliable Andrew Puttick is also in good touch. Up and coming Jason Smith has also impressed with the ball, and the signs are there that Dane Piedt is enjoying the extra responsibility of being captain, and the team is playing for him.
The Knights, of course, have quietly developed their own culture of gees, with players rallying behind young skipper De Bruyn in impressive fashion. Though they didn’t seem to have the supposed firepower on paper, they have seen new stars emerge, and they must fancy completing a domestic double over the next few weeks.
De Bruyn has led from the front with the bat, while Pite van Biljon and Diego Rosier have also stepped up. The form seamer in the country, Duaane Olivier, is relishing being the leader of the attack, and Nicky Boje also has good depth in the bowling ranks. Thus, the Cobras will have their hands very full.
In Sunday’s game, the Warriors travel to Gauteng, to take on the hurting Lions. The Wanderers-based franchise were humbled in the final round of Sunfoil Series fixtures, and they will be looking to restore pride in the camp.
What’s more, they are the defending champions in the One-Day Cup. That on its own should lift them somewhat, especially against a Warriors side that is very competitive in white-ball cricket. The men from Port Elizabeth were a hit or two away from stealing the T20 Challenge earlier in the season, and they have serious firepower with bat in hand.
The Wanderers is usually full of runs, and both sides will bank on mounting a serious total, against attacks that have had mixed fortunes this season. Though it is only the opening weekend of the competition, all six franchises are desperate to put down a marker early in the race, and put themselves in the pound seats for a playoff place.
Knights v Cobras
Lions v Warriors