Lions’ depth to be tested by in-form Knights as domestic series resumes

Sisanda Magala is set to return to the Lions team for their 4-Day Domestic Series cricket match against the Knights from Monday. Picture: Getty Images

The Titans’ powerful top order gives them an edge against the Warriors, while the Dolphins and Cobras lock horns in Durban.

Denied an important victory in their last match by the weather, the Lions will now look to block the rapid advance of the Knights at the Wanderers from Monday, in a 4-Day Domestic Series clash between the defending champions and probably the form team in the competition thus far.

And the Lions will need to stop the Knights juggernaut with a team missing half-a-dozen of the players who featured in the first two rounds because they are in the extended Proteas squad.

Fortunately the Lions have the depth to ensure the replacements coming in to take on the Knights are not rookies. Opening batsman Josh Richards is the youngest of the lot at 21 and he has already played six times for the Lions.

Other players likely to feature are Kagiso Rapulana, who averaged 84.40 for the Lions in 2018/19, and Sisanda Magala, who has been on the fringes of the Proteas squad, while aggressive batsman Wesley Marshall and all- rounder Delano Potgieter are probably competing for one place, as are spinner Aaron Phangiso and paceman Tladi Bokako.

Unfortunately for the Lions, swing bowler Eldred Hawken, their player of the season for 2019/20, is still out injured.

The other form team in the tournament, the Titans, now return home after two excellent wins on the road as they host the Warriors, the team they beat by eight wickets in their previous fixture.

While the Lions have been forced to change tack by Proteas call-ups, the Titans are way less affected and their team has a more stable look.

The top-order batting strength remains, with Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn all ignored for the national white-ball squad, and the absence of ace spinner Tabraiz Shamsi probably won’t be as badly felt at home, where spin plays a bit part on a typical SuperSport Park pitch.

Neil Brand is likely to replace Heinrich Klaasen in the top-five batting and is also a handy left-arm spinner to cover that base.

“It’s nice to see things happening so early in the season, but we know it is still the beginning and there is a long way to go,” said Titans coach Mandla Mashimbyi.

“What’s happened in the first two weeks is history now and the next page of the journey is what we’re now looking forward to starting from Monday.

“We’ll have to be wary and just make sure we keep ticking all the boxes from our side and carry on with the processes we’ve been carrying out as planned.

“It will be our first home game as well and we want to start it well.”

The third round’s other fixture sees the Dolphins trying to return to winning ways as they host the Cape Cobras at Kingsmead.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.





today in print