Potchefstroom – Highveld Lions' cricket team coach Geoffrey Toyana is determined to bounce back from their disappointment in Kimberley two weeks ago with an improved showing against the Dolphins.
The Johannesburg side were crushed by 10 wickets in that last outing against the Knights, in a match they entered as log leaders.
They have since slipped to second place behind the Cape Cobras.
Toyana is hopeful they can conclude the year on a high against the Durban visitors in their domestic four-day encounter in Potchefstroom, starting on Thursday. The Dolphins are currently bottom of the standings.
“I think it's imperative to bounce back, because we didn’t play well at all against the Knights,” Toyana said.
“I have no doubt we can do that, because this side is too good to play like that again.”
Toyana said there may have been some complacency at the Diamond Oval, but he wanted none of it at Senwes Park.
“I can't really pinpoint any specific reason why it happened. We started the competition well by winning our first game. Maybe there was a bit of complacency, I'm not sure.
“We've spoken about avoiding a repeat in this game at our meetings. We've looked at where we want to go and I'm sure we'll try and rectify the mistakes. We'll be hoping to play well so that we can end the year well.”
The Lions, who trail the Cape Cobras by a fraction of a point at the summit, will have to make do without their two kingpin bowlers in the suspended Hardus Viljoen, top wicket-taker in the competition to date, and injured all-rounder Chris Morris.
However, Toyana was confident they would cope.
“Our batting and bowling is extremely well-balanced, so I am confident in our chances,” Toyana said.
The Dolphins will welcome back Proteas' limited-overs specialist David Miller for the clash, which comes less than a week after their match against the Titans was abandoned without a ball being bowled at Kingsmead, due to a wet outfield.
Elsewhere on Thursday, another side hoping to make up ground on the leaders will be the Warriors, who have drawn their opening three matches, ahead of their showdown with the Titans in Port Elizabeth.
“Obviously we want to be amongst the leaders and they've all got a win under the belt so far, so for us we're wanting to finish this first session of four day games with that victory of our own,” coach Piet Botha said.
“So, that will be our aim in order to keep pace with the pack.”
The Warriors have a host of players on the injury list, including key men like Rusty Theron (side strain), Davy Jacobs (ankle) and Colin Ingram (calf) all facing fitness tests, although they do welcome back Wayne Parnell from national duty.
The visitors to St George's Park will be without Farhaan Behardien through suspension, but Albie Morkel and Henry Davids are available again.
The final match of the round sees the top-of-the-table Cobras play their first home game of the season when they welcome the Knights to Newlands in Cape Town.
Ryan McLaren is expected to return for the Free Staters after a successful limited-overs season for the Proteas so far.
The matches are the last for 2013. The competition will resume again in February. – Sapa