Johannesburg - The Highveld Lions have made four changes and added a youthful edge to their side ahead of Friday's domestic T20 cricket fixture against the Cape Cobras, as they attempt to register a first win of the tournament.
While some of the changes were enforced by the unavailability of Proteas Test players, coach Geoffrey Toyana has made others with a view to keep the squad fresh and full of energy.
Pakistan seamer Sohail Tanvir and batsman Gulam Bodi have dropped out of the squad, as have Proteas players Alviro Petersen and Thami Tsolekile.
Stephen Cook, Temba Bavuma, Pumelela Matshikwe and Devon Conway have all come in, while Neil McKenzie will stand in as captain for the games on Friday and Sunday.
“We've played eight or 10 T20 matches if we count the Champions League Twenty20 as well, and we haven't won one game,” Toyana said on Thursday.
“So the biggest motivation for us is to just get back to winning ways. I've called up a few guys who have not had an opportunity so that they have a chance in the last two games. It's always nice to see some fresh faces, who will bring new energy. Yes we've not played well this season, so we need some positives.”
The Cobras, meanwhile, can secure a home final if they win their final two games. The Cobras currently lead the Dolphins by two points, heading into the penultimate round on Friday.
“It's going to be a good challenge,” Justin Ontong said of the meeting with the Lions. I know the Lions haven't had the campaign that they wanted but they're still a quality outfit whom we respect, so it's going to be a tough contest.
“They're looking for their first win, and we just want to get back into that winning momentum seeing as we lost our last game.”
JP Duminy returns to the Cobras side after enjoying a rest, and Vernon Philander will be available for both games this weekend.
However, Hashim Amla's involvement in the competition is over. He will spend the next week preparing for the upcoming Test series against Australia, starting February 12. – Sapa