Cricket 5.12.2014 03:28 pm

Lions banking on Gayle effect

FILE PICTURE: Geoffrey Toyana head coach of bizhub Highveld Lions. (Photo by Gallo Images)

FILE PICTURE: Geoffrey Toyana head coach of bizhub Highveld Lions. (Photo by Gallo Images)

Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana has included the charismatic West Indian Chris Gayle in a strong batting lineup for their RamSlam T20 Challenge playoff match against the Knights at the Wanderers on Sunday.

“With Chris coming back it will be quite nice and he should have a good effect on the team,” Toyana said.

In their bid to come out on tops, the Lions will boast Gayle, Proteas’ opener Quinton de Kock and the in-form Rassie van der Dussen in their top three.

Gayle and Van der Dussen were the only batsmen to score centuries in this season’s competition.

The Cobras sealed their qualification for the final after finishing the competition top of the log. The second-placed Lions face the third-placed Knights.

The teams featuring in the final, in Cape Town, will gain automatic entry into next year’s Champions League T20 competition in India.

The pressure will be on the Lions to find a way to recapture the form that saw them win five consecutive matches to open the competition.

“It’s a big game for us and we just have to make sure we get over the line,” said Toyana.

The Lions have won only one of their last five matches, and were in a bad position against the Knights on Wednesday.

They were chasing a mammoth 187 to win, before rain brought a premature end to their reply after only 2.2 overs, with the sides forced to share the points.

“Rain had the final say in our game on Wednesday and we’re happy to be playing on our home ground in this big match,” Toyana said.

“Come Sunday, we’re hoping for the opportunity to fight for our spot in the final game.”

The Lions were the only team to defeat the Cobras in the season three weeks ago at the Wanderers, where Chris Morris achieved the world record for most economical bowling in all T20 cricket with phenomenal figures of 2/2 in his four overs.

The memories of that win will be in the minds of the Lions players as they set out to prove they are still title contenders.

“I’ve always thought the Cobras are a very good side and they deserve their spot in the final,” Toyana said.

“It’s just up to us to make sure we join them in the final.”

 

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