Kimberley - VKB Knights coach Nicky Boje concedes their T20 Challenge bid is all but over after a fifth straight loss in midweek left them with plenty to do ahead of their next outing against the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Friday.

The wheels have come off badly for the Central franchise ever since their bonus-point win over the BuildNat Cape Cobras in the opening match of the competition a little under three weeks ago.

Their latest failure came on Wednesday when they sunk to a season low of 93 all out against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth, a match they went on to lose by eight wickets.

“It is quite tough at the moment, but if you don't play good cricket that's what can happen,” Boje said. “We're not playing well at the moment and as mentioned previously, one of the departments is not clicking in each game and that has been our downfall.”

The Knights coach has, however, urged his troops not to let their heads drop in the remaining four matches. They are currently bottom of the log, three points behind the Cobras and Lions.

But Boje confirmed he will now turn to some of the more unfamiliar faces in the squad for the closing four rounds of the competition. “We need to lift our heads and keep fighting,” he added.

“I think what we're going to do now is give most of the guys in the squad a run. That's what we'll look to do because it's pretty difficult for us to qualify from here.”

Opponents the Lions are preparing for a crunch weekend, which will also see them take on the in-form Warriors on Sunday. Their coach, Geoffrey Toyana, admits both matches are crucial for their qualification prospects.

“We've got a big 10 days coming up with games coming thick and fast,” he said. “It's the halfway stage of the competition and we've got some catching up to do.

“We've prepared well after a win on Sunday. Hopefully, we can carry some of that momentum into these last few rounds.” The Lions have been handed a significant boost by the availability of Standard Bank Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius as well as opener Reeza Hendricks after injury.

African News Agency (ANA)