Pool A of the Momentum One-Day Cup in Potchefstroom effectively ended after just two matches – the rest being washed out – and the Lions will know the importance of their opening two games on Friday and Sunday with the currently good weather in the North-West set to turn next week.
The Lions play the Cape Cobras on Friday and then the Warriors on Sunday, and they will be looking to follow the same route through to the semifinals as the Dolphins did.
The KwaZulu-Natalians won their first two matches against the Titans and Knights in convincing fashion and then sat back knowing they were safe as the rest of the fixtures could not be played due to regular showers and the outfield not being fit for play.
“It was a bit disappointing not to see a lot of cricket being played because of the weather, and hopefully the good weather now will hold out,” Lions captain Aaron Phangiso said on Thursday.
“Every game is important, bad weather or not, but it’s very important we hit the ground, up-and-running, from the start. We need a good performance from game one.
“We were fortunate we could play a couple of warm-up games at the Wanderers and we’re happy with the prep and where we are.”
Pedigree alone suggests the Lions should join the defending champion Dolphins and Knights in the semifinals.
Phangiso’s men beat the Dolphins in their last round-robin fixture of last season’s One-Day Cup to finish second on the log, but the Natalians were awarded the trophy when the knockout rounds were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, because they finished first in the standings, two points ahead of the Lions.
“We had a good season. We beat the Dolphins in our last match, but that was last season,” Phangiso said.
“But then again there has not been much cricket played lately, so we will take some confidence from that and our warm-up games.
“Potchefstroom is a second home for us. We know the conditions well, even though the pitch played completely different to what we are used to for Pool A.
“We just have to adjust. The pitch is normally true and the ball comes through, but now the slower bowlers will definitely play a big role. We do have that in our attack with Bjorn Fortuin, myself and Malusi Siboto. We can all deliver in those conditions. Plus Sisanda Magala played for the Warriors before so he is used to those conditions and has given us one or two tips.
“Sisanda is going to be a big weapon for us in terms of tactics. The conditions would seem to favour the coastal teams because they play more often on slower pitches than us, but it’s just a matter of us adjusting and having better tactics.
“We have good enough players to deliver, and we have all played big cricket so we are experienced enough.”