Johannesburg – While the Lions have only managed one win in their One-Day Cup campaign to date, coach Geoffrey Toyana says his side are far from being ruled out of the running for a playoff place in this year's competition.
The single victory for the Lions came away against the Cobras on the weekend, and with four points from as many games and in fifth spot on the log, the Johannesburg outfit now have a glimmer of hope in their campaign.
The Lions take on the Knights in Bloemfontein on Friday.
“This competition takes shape after game six or seven,” said Toyana at a training session at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
“At the moment the sides have played three and four games with some sides winning two games.
“We've just won one game, so we're not far off. If we win another one or two we're right back in it.”
Playing in Bloemfontein will mean the slow bowlers will play a bigger part in the game according to Toyana.
“I watched that game when they (Knights) played the Cobras and they played three spinners and it turned a lot.
“It's a big field in Bloemfontein, there are always twos and threes so it's a hard ground to defend on. We've got our two spinning options in (Aaron) Phangiso and (Eddie) Leie.
“It will be nice to bat first and have our spinners coming through at the end.”
Before the Titans demolished the Knights in Benoni on Wednesday, no home side had tasted victory in the competition, which Toyana pointed out.
“To play the Cobras in Cape Town – the best team in the competition – to go there and beat them there was quite refreshing.
“In this competition so far, there's no home team that has won a game out of 10 games played now.
“All the away teams have won so it's quite interesting. It means for us going to Bloemfontein we are going to win. It has been quite strange.”
The form of the returning Neil McKenzie from a side strain has also been timely for the Lions.
“I'm glad that we've got a guy like Neil McKenzie back for us. In the games he didn't play, it showed.
“His experience for us has been tremendous.”
The Lions battled during the Champions League in India, and their lack of form continued into the local cup competition. The difference, Toyana said, was the play of the veteran batsman.
“We have struggled this year. So for a guy like Neil to come and play like he did on a difficult, windy day in Cape Town, was great.
“He showed maturity. It's given us a chance and he's looking good. He's done with his injury, he was playing football this afternoon (in training), so he's fine.” – Sapa