After failing to win either of their two T20 games this season, the Lions will head into Paarl today hungry for victory against the Cobras.
Coach Geoff Toyana will use the same side that lost to the Knights on Sunday while he will be hoping his team can perform better under new captain Thami Tsolekile following the resignation of Alviro Petersen.
“It has been quite disruptive with Alviro stepping down but we’re all professionals so we need to move on,” said Toyana. “We know that it’s been a difficult season and we haven’t played good cricket so it’s time that we turned the corner. This is a very important game for us because it could keep us alive in the competition.”
Despite the team remaining winless so far, opener Quinton de Kock has been in good form for the defending champions and is their top run-scorer with 97 runs.
The wicketkeeper/batsman will face a formidable bowling attack today with the Cobras line-up including Rory Kleinveldt, Beuran Hendricks and Vernon Philander.
“(It’s) always good to be back with the blues and with the guys here. They have been doing well, so hopefully I can bring some of my experience to the party and contribute,” said Philander, who will be playing in his first Cobras game of the season.
Philander will be available for the Cobras from today until the end of the competition and the 28-year-old is hoping for a successful return to the franchise.
“I always follow the Cobras and hopefully I can keep their momentum going. I am excited about it so I am looking forward to it and hopefully we can start with a win against the Lions.”
Despite being ranked the world’s best Test bowler, Philander has been unable to nail down a spot in the Proteas limited overs side with all of his seven T20 international caps coming in 2007 and his 13 one-day caps coming from 2007 to last year.
“You always want to play in all formats. I worked on my game in the winter by going up to play for Kent and Jamaica in the shorter formats. I definitely want to see myself playing more white-ball cricket whether it be T20s or one-day. So hopefully I can use this opportunity to show the world what I can do in this form of the game.”
Following Cricket South Africa’s request for all Test batsmen to be rested for at least a week, Cobras coach Paul Adams will be looking to the likes of Stiaan van Zyl to score well.
During the one and four-day tournaments, Van Zyl batted at number three with great success, but now the 26-year-old is enjoying his new role as opener.
“The best place to bat in T20 cricket is up front because the field is up so there are more gaps. I would prefer playing there. (But) if I have to bat at number three then it’s fine with me,” said Van Zyl.
Last weekend, Van Zyl smashed six fours in a 14-ball 26. - Cape Argis