As the RAM Slam T20 Challenge heads into the home straight, every game has taken on more significance, with five of the six franchises still in with a chance to make the playoffs.
The table-topping bizhub Highveld Lions are a win away from securing a home final, and they fell an agonising, seven runs short against a fired-up Nashua Titans outfit in midweek.
Coach Geoff Toyana now wants his side to get back on the horse in their next game, away to the Chevrolet Warriors in East London on Friday.
“The Titans were very good the other night. I have already said it, but Alfonso Thomas was just unbelievable at the end, and all credit to them,” he conceded.
“I think that I probably made the mistake of holding Sohail Tanvir back for too long. He has been finishing games off for us well this season, and it was a lesson learnt, definitely,” Toyana admitted.
“The good thing is that we came very close in that game. We were in control for a long time, and just didn’t finish it off. The morale in the camp is still very high, and we are looking forward to East London,” he added.
While the Lions fell just short, the game saw another gem of an innings from their budding star, Quinton de Kock, who pummeled 73 off 40 balls, before holing out.
“He was actually in tears at the end, because he felt that he should have taken us home. That’s the standards he sets, and he is already a leader within the team in own right,” Toyana explained.
“I’ve seen Quinton develop over a number of years, having worked with him at SA under-19 as well. He is a massive talent, and I have seen him destroy attacks. I am sure he will play for South Africa for many years to come, and we take pride in producing national players,” he enthused.
De Kock and Aaron Phangiso will be made available to the Lions for Friday night’s clash against the Warriors, but Toyana is sweating on the availability of Tanvir, who has been called up by the touring Pakistanis.
“If he plays on Thursday (against South Africa), then I doubt that he will play for us. But we will have to wait and see. If he doesn’t, it also gives an opportunity for the other guys to get more involved.”
While the Lions are still sitting pretty, the Warriors know that they can –ill-afford any more mistakes.
“We finished our last match against the Knights badly. We actually stopped playing, because we had been cruising in the first 12-13 overs,” skipper Davy Jacobs said of his side’s loss last week.
“We have discussed it, and we will take it as a lesson. This last week of the pool stages will be a lot of fun, and it is always exciting, and we really want to finish strong,” he added.
Jacobs welcomed the prospect of Colin Ingram being back for Friday’s clash, as it will spread the load across the middle-order.
“Colin coming back allows all of us to shift one down the order, which is ideal. His experience at this stage is also crucial, and we saw the importance of that during the Knights’ game.”
Jacobs also admitted that he was looking forward to playing at the Warriors’ second home.
“All the boys are looking forward to it. Look, we love playing at St
George’s- the ground has a fantastic atmosphere, but the wicket is just terrible, and it has been for a while now.
“East London has been a good venue for us, and we have a good record there. So we are hoping to go there and get a good win on Friday night.”
Play at Buffalo Park starts at 6pm on Friday.