After seven weeks of high intensity and swashbuckling
cricket, the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge reaches its climax this Sunday when the
bizhub Highveld Lions will host the Nashua Titans at the Bidvest Wanderers
Stadium in Johannesburg.
The match-up is a repeat of last year’s showpiece, which
was won by the Pretoria outfit in dominating fashion, although this time around
the hosts are convinced they are far more prepared.
“I think last year we took the foot off the pedal a
little bit because the guys were just delighted to have qualified for the
Champions League,” coach Geoffrey Toyana recalled. “It’s very different this
time, we’re now hungry for the trophy. The guys have chatted about it
constantly and we’re looking forward to it.”
However, there is also slightly more pressure on the
hosts considering they will be playing in a fourth straight final without
having won any thus far.
Since their meltdown in last season’s showpiece, one that
saw them hammered by 45 runs, the bizhub Highveld Lions lost the Champions
League final and also shared the Momentum One Day Cup crown after a rained out
final against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras.
Toyana agreed they might be slightly more pressure on his
team to succeed, but insisted they were well prepared to come with anything.
“I agree with that that, but not entirely,” he said about
the pressure. “The Nashua Titans will also be out to prove something if you
consider how their season has gone.
“They finished last in the Sunfoil Series and missed out
on the one-day final. So I think there’ll be pressure on both sides and both
will give it a good go.
“But no one wants to be classified as finalists every
time. Everyone is aware of that.”
Toyana, only in his first season in charge at the
Bullring, was also confident they desire to succeed will not turn into
“It’s a fine line, but we know the boundaries,” he added.
“It has been a good season for us, we’ve played in two finals and hopefully
that experience factor will also help us and pull us through.”
Opposite number Matthew Maynard also concurred about the
importance of winning for the bizhub Highveld Lions, who will be seeking their
first trophy since 2006/07, saying: “Potentially (there is extra pressure on
them), but that’s something you put on yourself.
“Teams are measured by the amount of silverware they put
in the cabinet. It’s all well and good getting to finals, but you want to win
On the other hand, the Centurion outfit are bidding for a
fourth trophy in the format, which is just nine years old on the South African
“Winning is something that I’m very pleased with about
this group of players, they’ve done it before and are used to success in
“They know what it takes on the big occasion, so I’m
expecting a great response from them.”
Both teams are expected to be at full strength with fast
bowler Sohail Tanvir due to arrive back from Pakistan later on Friday to boost
the home team.