BOTH the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and the Nashua Titans have had to come up with fine balancing acts between the selection of the returning Proteas and keeping faith with those who have got them through to the knock-out phase when the two franchises go head to head in the Momentum One-Day Cup play-off match at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras will have four members of the victorious Proteas Castle Lager Test squad available – Graeme Smith, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt and Dale Steyn – and the Nashua Titans three – AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph and Morne Morkel – to add spice to this one-off contest.
The winners will play the bizhub Highveld Lions in the Momentum One-Day Cup Final at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium next Friday, 14 December 2012.
Not only will this be the first opportunity to see some of the returning Proteas in live action but it will also provide some mouth-watering head-to-head contests.
Steyn and Kleinveldt are likely to take the new ball for the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras against the likes of De Villiers and Rudolph while Smith could have his work cut out as well when the younger Morkel leads off the Nashua Titans attack.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras have named a squad of 14 while the Nashua Titans have named 15, so it will be interesting to see how the two starting XIs line up.
Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams reckons the addition of Proteas players will add extra spice to an already mammoth clash.
“With so many big names returning, I think it’ll be a great encounter at Newlands. We’ll sit down over the next 40 hours to find which combinations are best to use for the play-offs,” Adams said.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and the Nashua Titans are familiar foes and, with their having played each other as recently as Wednesday, one might think that the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras will have some extra insight into the workings of the opposition. But Adams insists that they are staying focussed on their own preparation.
“We’re focussing less on our opposition and more on getting our game right and making sure that we play to our potential and we want to get into a good mental space. We’re shifting focus to playing aggressive and confident cricket,” said Adams.
Adams took over as Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras coach at the start of the season and has had an impressive run thus far, winning six out of their ten one-day matches. The Cape side hit a bit of a snag when they suffered three losses on the trot, but they have found their vigour and dominated their last match against the Nashua Titans, with Richard Levi notching up a tremendous 166 while Stiaan van Zyl chipped in with 59.
“It’s been a good season for me as a new coach, especially bouncing back after three losses in a row. It’s been fun trying to get a different energy out of every player. I’ve also been really impressed with the way some of the young players have stepped up and made their mark, but the key thing for the Cobras has been the way each player has contributed,” said Adams.
The Nashua Titans have lost five and won five out of their ten group stage matches but with a trio of internationals returning, there should not be much to choose between the two sides after the completion of the 100 overs.
The weather forecast for Sunday is good with play scheduled to start at 10h00.
Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras: Justin Ontong (capt), Qaasim Adams, Alistair Gray, Justin Kemp, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Johann Louw, Andrew Puttick, Robbie Peterson, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Yaseen Vallie, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas
Nashua Titans: Martin van Jaarsveld (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, AB de Villiers, CJ de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Heino Kuhn, Eden Links, Tumi Masekela, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Mangaliso Mosehle, Jacques Rudolph, Roelof van der Merwe, David Wiese