Lions captain Stephen Cook will hope his team can get back on the winning trail on Friday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Wanderers and SuperSport Park are separated by 36km and the primary occupants of those two venues, the Lions and Titans, are separated by five points on the Momentum One-Day Cup log.

But in terms of form and strategic implementation, the differences are even more enormous.

The Titans are the epitome of a steady, well disciplined and determined team. They hide their flaws well, and when they get their noses in front, they charge away from the opposition.

In contrast, the Lions are a team who seemingly have to fight themselves as much as the opposition. Their errors are numerous and while they are seemingly fixable, they remain unfixed.

They have gifted their opponents opportunities throughout the season, across all three formats, and victories, which have been rare, usually involve scrapping, playing ugly and working a lot harder than really seems necessary.

The Lions face a crucial pair of fixtures this weekend – a trip to Kimberley today to play the Knights and then a home game against the Cape Cobras at the Wanderers on Sunday.

If they can eliminate even half the mistakes they have consistently made this summer, they will give themselves a chance in those encounters.

It’s a quirk in the schedule of the One-Day Cup that will see the Lions play three games in five days and then just one in the following 10. 

It is thus crucial for Stephen Cook’s team to get something positive out of these two matches in respect of their position on the log, but perhaps more importantly, their own mentality, which will be down after a wretched display in their last match against the Titans.

The defending champion Titans will be looking forward to building some rhythm now following a stop-start beginning to their campaign.

They played their first match three days before Christmas, had the festive week off, and then played the Lions on Wednesday night.

They won both though, one with a bonus point, and sit atop the points table, something that is the norm for them.

They host the Cobras in Centurion today and then the Warriors in Benoni on Sunday and certainly by the time the weekend is over, they’d expect to be back on song.

They didn’t have to be at their best to beat the Lions, but they would have been happy about the half-century scored by inexperienced (at franchise level) opener Andrea Agathangelou at the Wanderers.

It would have helped to relieve some of the pressure on Heino Kuhn, Heinrich Klaasen and Farhaan Behardien, on whom the Titans are very reliant and give opposition bowlers something more to think about.

The Cobras won one game and lost another before the festive break, and their challenge, like it was for the Lions and Titans on Wednesday, is to establish some rhythm and try to build some momentum over the weekend.

Weekend’s Fixtures

Today (start 1.30pm): Knights v Highveld Lions, Kimberley; Titans v Cape Cobras, Centurion.

Sunday (start 10am): Highveld Lions v Cape Cobras, Wanderers; Titans v Warriors, Benoni.

 

The Star