It’s a weird feeling to be considered bottom-of-the-log fodder, and it is not something that rests easily on the shoulders of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras.
They certainly won’t be dishing out any holiday weekend favours when they meet the Chevrolet Warriors at Sahara Park Newlands on Thursday in a RAM SLAM T20 clash that will help determine the finishing order at the top end of the log.
The Nashua Titans, the Chevrolet Warriors and the bizhub Highveld Lions are in a dog-fight for the top position. The Nashua Titans currently occupy top spot with 26 points, but that could change if the bizhub Highveld Lions, on 25 points, beat the Sunfoil Dolphins, also on Thursday.
The Chevrolet Warriors, on 22 points, can in turn leapfrog both the Nashua Titans and the bizhub Highveld Lions if they thrash the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras on Thursday and earn a bonus point, while the bizhub Highveld Lions stutter to defeat against the Sunfoil Dolphins.
According to weather forecasts, there is a 30 percent chance of showers in Cape Town on Thursday.
But Justin Ontong, the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras captain, issued his own ominous storm warning: “We are indebted to our fans after winning the Sunfoil Series and sharing the spoils in the Momentum One-Day Cup campaign.
“We want to finish the season with a bang for the sake of our home supporters.
“Obviously the Warriors should not expect any favours from us.”
Loosely translated, that means in simple terms that the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras will be motivated to remind the South African public of their status as one of the top-performing franchises in the country.
“We did not lack motivation or intensity at the start of this competition, having already grabbed silverware.
“If you ask any player what competition he would love to win, he would talk about the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge as the ultimate prize,” said Ontong.
“We disappointed ourselves. When we performed admirably with the bat, we erred in terms of fielding or bowling. Or we might have bowled well, but then slipped as a batting unit,” he said.
The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras have had some injury and illness concerns in the build-up to the match at Sahara Park Newlands.
Vernon Philander has been suffering from flu, while Stiaan van Zyl has had a stomach bug. Alistair Gray (food poisoning) was also one of the ailing members of the group, but recovered sufficiently to take full part in training on Tuesday.
They are all, however, expected to be fit for Thursday’s clash.
Davy Jacobs, the Chevrolet Warriors captain, said his team would be travelling to Cape Town with the intent of grabbing a bonus point to leapfrog the Titans.
“Both teams will be dangerous, and will play without fear or doubt.
“I have told the boys to go and play aggressively. I said, if you have any doubts, swing harder.”
The Chevrolet Warriors will focus on getting another explosive start. Christiaan Jonker and Ashwell Prince both performed admirably in this role against the bizhub Highveld Lions recently.
Jonker, at the top of the Chevrolet Warriors batting averages, and Prince, third, can expect better support from the middle-order this time around, said Jacobs.
Samit Patel has been a revelation as number-four batsman and Jacobs hope he himself will complement the English all-rounder in the middle order.
“Our overall approach will be an aggressive one at Newlands. We have nothing to lose, and I expect a similar approach from the Cobras.”
Jacobs added that he had been extremely impressed by the contribution of Wayne Parnell, the leading Chevrolet Warriors bowler, and his support cast.
“Wayne lives for moments like these - those last-over pressures. That’s why he wanted to bowl that final over against the Lions, which ensured us victory.
“That over might still mean a lot to him in terms of his overall development as bowler and his career,” he added.