CAPE TOWN - The T20 Challenge may only just have begun with the opening round of fixtures completed, but Cape Cobras batsman Aviwe Mgijima knows the value of points on the road.
The Cobras went down by 15 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method to the Dolphins at Centurion last Sunday, and will be back in action on the Highveld this weekend.
On Friday, Ashwell Prince’s team face the Lions - who also lost their opening game - at the Wanderers before returning to SuperSport Park on Sunday to battle the Titans in a mouth-watering clash. The Cobras only play their first home game next Friday when they host the Lions at Boland Park.
“Obviously it is still early in the competition as we have only played one game and one defeat is not the end of a campaign, but we understand the importance of picking up points away from home,” Mgijima said.
“We play three consecutive games on the Highveld (including last Sunday’s match against the Dolphins) and we have to pick up some points along the way.
"It helps build momentum when we return to play in conditions we know well. In the past we have seen that teams that are able to build up early momentum do well in this competition.”
Although the Cobras bowling unit found the going tough last Sunday, conceding a franchise record T20 score, Mgijima certainly enjoyed the batting surface at SuperSport Park.
He smashed an unbeaten 37 off only 19 balls (3x4, 2x6) and was timing the ball well. In fact, there was a genuine belief in the Cobras squad, that along with Hashim Amla who was flying as well, that the Western Cape side could have chased down the Dolphins’ total of 231/2 had the rain not intervened.
“Of course we believed we were in the hunt. Hash was playing superbly well and after us losing those early wickets, there wasn’t time to still block," Mgijima said.
“You had to attack from ball one. I haven’t played much at the Wanderers or SuperSport Park, but the pitch was a really great one for batting. I enjoyed myself and (I) am really looking forward to the Lions game at the Wanderers.”
Cobras captain JP Duminy concurred with Mgijima with regards to the quality of the pitch and was impressed with the 29-year-old batsman.
“Historically, high numbers are scored at the Highveld. But in saying that, we probably gave them 30 runs too many,” Duminy remarked. “Our highlight was the way in which Hashim and Aviwe batted under pressure.
"They expanded, instead of going inwards. That is something all of us can learn from. Flaunt your talent and show what you are made off under pressure.
“There were a couple of soft dismissals up front, including my wicket. We definitely have to front up to the pressure and take responsibility as a squad."
Mgijima is enjoying being in the company of Proteas such as Duminy and Amla, and particularly the latter, who he has now shared two big partnerships with in the space of a couple of months.
Last Sunday’s unbroken 88-run stand off only 40 balls follows their mammoth 165-run stand in a Sunfoil Series clash at the beginning of the season when Amla guided Mgijima to his maiden first-class century against the Knights.
“Obviously it is great batting with guys like Hash. Even during training, you learn so much from a player like him that has so much experience,” Mgijima said.
“Out in the middle it’s the same. You gain confidence from watching him at the other end because he makes batting look so simple. And when it’s your time to take guard, he always says the right things to keep you calm and focused at the same time.”