Victory for the Imperial Lions in their Momentum One-Day Cup game against the Warriors in Potchefstroom on Thursday will ensure they end at the top of Pool B, but for captain Aaron Phangiso, the focus is on ensuring they maintain the momentum from their opening two bonus-point wins.
The Warriors themselves claimed a bonus-point triumph in their 81-run hammering of the Cape Cobras on Wednesday, rebounding from the 42-run defeat the Lions inflicted on them last weekend. And while it would take some extraordinary results now for the Lions to miss out on the semi-finals and they are considering tinkering with their line-up, Phangiso said there would be no let-up in their intensity.
“Any team would like the start we’ve had and it gives us the opportunity to maybe play around with our batting line-up and there’s always room for improvement,” Phangiso said.
“So it’s a nice position to be in, but we’re definitely not going to sit back and relax. We want to play good cricket every game so that if we get into the semi-finals then we are still playing well.
“There is a bit less pressure on us so we are more at ease, but every game is important and the guys pride themselves on their performance so we will still be putting our foot down. The last thing we want is to lose the momentum we’ve gained.”
It has been the outstanding bowling attack of the Lions that has led the way for them, and Phangiso said he believes the national team should be looking closely at their performances.
“I hope the Proteas are looking at our games because that combination of Sisanda Magala and Eldred Hawken up front has been great. Sisanda is definitely Proteas material and Eldred is shining again, showing last season’s success didn’t happen by chance. Malusi Siboto has played franchise cricket for years and Bjorn Fortuin is also doing a great job.
“The guys know the plans and are sticking to them, they’re just focusing on getting the basics right. As a captain, it makes my job so much easier,” Phangiso said.
The slow left-armer has himself led from the front with the ball, conceding just 62 runs in his 17 overs and has taken three wickets.
The Warriors’ orthodox left-arm spinner Jon-Jon Smuts has also been outstanding, taking three wickets against both the Lions and the Cobras to be the most successful bowler. How the batsmen of the Lions and Warriors handle the spin threat will be the key factor in Thursday’s game as the Senwes Park pitch has been decidedly sub-continental in nature.