The Lions were the early frontrunners in the MiWay T20 Challenge, winning their first three matches, before coming unstuck last weekend against the Chevrolet Knights in Bloemfontein. They are currently five points behind the log-leading central franchise, but have two games in hand.
The Knights have the weekend off, while the Lions play the Nashua Titans at SuperSport Park on Friday night and the Sunfoil Dolphins in Durban on Sunday, so Nosworthy and his team are chasing top place on the log again.
“This coming weekend is a big one for the Lions as we come up against a strong Titans team on Friday night, followed by an equally well-performing Dolphins team on Sunday. Having played four matches and managing to get across the line on three occasions has been a good start for us, however, it is never about the way one starts but about how one finishes. Team-wise, the group is very excited for this weekend as we look forward to performing at our best,” head coach Nosworthy said.
And Nosworthy could let loose his two big overseas guns to further boost the attacking edge of the Lions attack.
Tanveer, who has been playing in the Bangladesh T20 league, flew into Johannesburg on Thursday evening and will probably be kept in cotton wool until the Lions arrive in Durban. The 27-year-old left-armer has taken 75 wickets in his 73 T20 games and has an economy rate of 7.14, so he is a fine bowler in this format, as well as a useful batsman in the lower-order. The fact that he has also played for the Rajasthan Royals and South Australia shows that he is in demand.
Nannes, meanwhile, has been in the country for 10 days, and the chances are greater that Nosworthy will be welcoming the Australian into the starting line-up against the Titans on Friday night.
“We didn’t want to risk Dirk earlier because he had a bit of a side strain,” Nosworthy explained to SuperSport.com.
Also a left-armer, Nannes has taken 28 wickets in 17 T20 internationals, and overall has taken 169 wickets in 135 matches at an economy rate of 7.14 in the shortest format of the game, having played for eight different franchises.
The one definite change to the team will come at the top of the order, where captain Alviro Petersen has left to join the national team in New Zealand. Thami Tsolekile will take over the captaincy, while the experienced Gulam Bodi is the most obvious candidate to open the batting instead of Petersen, although the Lions may yet spring a surprise there, the coach hinted.
“Gulam is an option, but so are Temba Bavuma and Neil McKenzie. We don’t want to be one-minded in our plans, we want to play differently as much as possible. The good thing is we can change the batting order and the bowling options around as well,” Nosworthy said.
Lions squad – Thami Tsolekile, Temba Bavuma, Shane Burger, Gulam Bodi, Quinton De Kock, Eddie Leie, Neil McKenzie, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Ethan O’Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Dwaine Pretorius, Jean Symes, Sohail Tanveer, Jonathan Vandiar.