PAARL – Cape Cobras captain Dane Piedt won the toss and had no hesitation in sending the Highveld Lions in to bat under cloudy skies at Boland Park on Monday.
The match is crucial in the context of the competition with the Cobras currently leading the Lions by 32.88 points at the top of the table. Another victory for the Cobras could see them virtually run away with the title at the halfway stage, while the Lions have the opportunity to make up valuable ground.
The Cobras will be without Proteas seam bowler Vernon Philander this week due to his wife giving birth to their first child. Promising all-rounder Jason Smith returns after missing last week's victory over the Dolphins at Newlands.
The Lions, meanwhile, are without ace left-arm bowler Beuran Hendricks through suspension, while Nono Pongolo comes into the team for Malusi Siboto.
“We will try to use the conditions. Hopefully there is a bit of moisture after being under covers for a while,” Piedt said at the toss. “It is a pity Beuran is not playing for them (chuckles). He created rough for me to bowl them out (at the Wanderers). We are pretty confident but we are not getting ahead of ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Lions counterpart Temba Bavuma has noticed “a bit more grass” on the Paarl wicket and is hoping to get through the new ball in the first hour.
Equally, he expects his former Cobras teammates to provide some “friendly banter” out in the middle.
“There will always be a bit of banter, friendly banter I would like to think. It's just another game of cricket and let’s hope it goes well.”
The teams for Boland Park
Cape Cobras: Pieter Malan, Janneman Malan, Zubayr Hamza, David Bedingham, Aviwe Mgijima, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Jason Smith, Dane Piedt, Dane Paterson, Tladi Bokako, Mthiwekhaya Nabe.
Highveld Lions: Stephen Cook, Dominic Hendricks, Wihan Lubbe, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Nicky van der Bergh, Bjorn Fortuin, Zanzima Pongolo, Aaron Phangiso, Craig Alexander, Nandre Burger.