Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana is confident his team will do well with the return of the One Day Cup. Photo: BackpagePix
All the attention in South African cricket circles over the next month will be on South Africa’s three-match Test series with India, starting in Cape Town on Friday.

Way, way in the background over the same period will be the Momentum One-Day Cup, which resumes today at the Wanderers with a derby between the Highveld Lions and the Titans.

Many may have missed the competition’s start, which saw five matches shoehorned into a three day period just before Christmas.

Now, as the competition resumes while many people are still on holiday - and the focus in local cricket circles is turning towards a competitive international series (finally) - Cricket South Africa will be grateful that they have such understanding sponsors in Momentum - who surely won’t get the kind of publicity out of this tournament that they would like.

The competition is due to end on February 3, by which time the Test matches with India would have ended, and the first ODI would have already been completed.

That is just the nature of this ramshackle of a season, which has seen the primary in-coming tour of the summer start two weeks later than usual, a major T20 tournament get canned, the local T20 franchise competition, moved from April to November, and Zimbabwe get invited for a four-day ‘pink ball’ Test that finished in two days.

However for domestic players it’s a critical few weeks, another opportunity to get their team’s name on a trophy and attempting to stop the ‘white ball’ juggernaut that is the Titans.

When the tournament started and then halted for that Christmas break last month, the defending champions had engineered a dominating win against the Knights at Centurion,with Heinrich Klaasen underlining his, err class, with a fine half-century and a surprising return of two wickets after he’d whipped off the pads and had a bowl.

The Titans have set the benchmark as far as domestic limited overs cricket is concerned and it is up to the rest to try and bridge that gap.

The Lions get the opportunity today, hoping that they don’t drag any festive hangovers onto the ‘Bullring’ for their third match in the competition.

They performed very poorly in the tournament opener against the Warriors, losing by six wickets, but followed that up with a gutsy last ball win against the Dolphins in Potchefstroom, three days later.

The Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana, is leaning heavily on that performance, to help propel his side into some good form in a season in which they have largely struggled.

“I’m really happy with the way we ended the year and I feel we did really well to get over the line against the Dolphins,” Toyana said.

“The fight the boys showed has really given us hope as we move into the New Year.

"It’s the hope that we need and hopefully we can build on that.”

Hope must be allied to skill though, and that final game in 2017, saw some key players produce skilful performances, including Omphile Ramela, Mangaliso Mosehle, Dwaine Pretorius and Hardus Viljoen.

It is to those senior players that the Lions will look as they attempt to down the Titans.

The Titans again look very strong in the bowling department, with Lungi Ngidi included in the squad after he’d missed the match against the Knights with a hamstring strain.

Ngidi along with Malusi Siboto, Junior Dala and Tabraiz Shamsi were the core of the bowling unit that dominated in the RamSlam T20 Challenge and they will be a significant test for the Lions batsmen.

The Titans’ batting does look thin with Klaasen, Farhaan Behardien and Heino Kuhn a key and experienced trio.

If the Lions can get through them cheaply they will give themselves an outstanding shot at pulling off an upset.

Today’s match starts at 1.30pm.

The Star

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