The formidable Lions pace quartet prospered at the Wanderers last weekend when they beat the Titans by 190 runs, but Temba Bavuma’s 84 was the highest score by their batsmen.
In Bloemfontein, the Knights beat the Warriors by 128 runs in an extraordinary game in which the home side recovered from 32 for eight to win.
Because of the batting-friendly conditions at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, the Lions had lined up wrist-spinner Eddie Leie to come into the side but the plans were foiled when the 27-year-old sprained his groin in practice.
Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso, fresh from his exploits with the national side, will therefore be playing and should be a major attraction along with SA U19 star Kagiso Rabada, recently named in the Proteas’ T20 squad.
Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana speculated in the build-up to the season that Rabada would be spared having to bowl on flat pitches, but the decision has now been made to put more responsibility on the young man’s shoulders.
“We’re still managing Kagiso, at the moment he’s not bowling much between games, but he’ll definitely play. Bowling on flat pitches is part of the process of growing up and when he gets to international cricket, all the pitches will look like Potch! It’s quite important that he learns the skills to bowl on those sort of surfaces,” Toyana told The Citizen yesterday.
Rilee Rossouw, who the Knights are heavily reliant on to lead the batting, is not available as he has just become a father for the first time, while Pite van Biljon is also on the injured list. They have rested their hopes on two of three all-rounders added to the squad – Obus Pienaar, Patrick Botha or wicketkeeper Tumelo Bodibe.
It will probably be a different story in Benoni, where both the Unlimited Titans and Chevrolet Warriors will be looking to bounce back from the blows they took in the opening round on a Willowmoore Park pitch that is often difficult for batting.
Henry Davids has been named in the Titans squad, but it remains to be seen whether he will play, having withdrawn from the team last weekend due to his lack of four-day form.
It will probably be a shootout between him and Qaasim Adams for the number four batting spot, while spinner Roelof van der Merwe and seamer Cobus Pienaar are probably competing for the all-rounder’s spot.
The Warriors will be without Wayne Parnell, the left-arm fast bowler having injured his shoulder in Bloemfontein.
Warriors captain Colin Ingram has spoken of the need for his team to adapt quickly to what the vagaries of the pitch may throw up, but the visitors will be confident they have the bowlers – both pacemen and spinners – to put the struggling Titans batting line-up under more pressure.