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Ken Borland


Frustrating draw will ensure Lions bring ferocious intensity into Titans derby

Posted on April 03, 2024 by Ken

A frustrating draw against the GBets Rocks last weekend will ensure that the DP World Lions men’s team will bring a ferocious intensity into their local derby against the Momentum Multiply Titans at Centurion from Wednesday as they chase a place in the CSA 4-Day Series final.

Our Lions were in rampant form against the Rocks at the DP World Wanderers Stadium, a fine all-round bowling effort seeing the Bolanders bowled out for just 226 on the first day. The Pride then gathered a formidable 252-run first-innings lead as captain Dominic Hendricks led from the front with an innings of great determination and quality bringing him 135 runs. Wiaan Mulder then blazed 141 off 128 balls and there were also classy half-centuries from Ryan Rickelton and Temba Bavuma.

The Lions then reduced the Rocks to 36 for three in their second innings, raising hopes of a victory that would have taken them to the top of the log. But tremendous rearguard centuries by Pieter Malan and Jean du Plessis, and an 84 not out on debut by Nathan Engelbrecht, denied the Lions as the pitch seemed to just get better and better for batting.

Nevertheless, our Pride are still very much in contention for a place in the final, third in the standings on 95.50 points. They are just 8.02 points behind the log-leading Dolphins, so if they beat the Titans (102pts) this week then they are bound to finish in the top two.

“It’s just one of those things,” Hendricks said. “The pitch didn’t really deteriorate, there was just a little bit of variable bounce. So it was a phenomenal effort to take 19 wickets on a batting-friendly surface. It showed good skills and a desire not to turn down a challenge, so I was very chuffed for the bowlers and their monumental effort.

“It’s knockout cricket against the Titans, like a semi-final with the winners having the opportunity to play in the final. It’s the Jukskei derby and we will be up for it, matches against them are always a challenge, a good test of skills and the big thing is to be highly competitive for as long as possible.

“But it’s not rocket science, we will need to play good, old-fashioned cricket against them, good simple cricket. We will try to force mistakes and then capitalise on them. Even if we win on the fourth day, we will be happy, and we won’t worry about what the other teams are doing,” Hendricks said.

The left-handed opener admitted to some personal frustration this season before notching his first century of the campaign against the Rocks, more than doubling his tally of runs.

“It’s been a while since I scored a first-class century, I’ve had quite a few opportunities over the last couple of seasons which I didn’t convert, so it’s been very frustrating.

“So there was certainly some inward determination and grit to make sure that ‘today was the day’. There was not a helluva lot of assistance for the bowlers, unlike some of the tricky wickets at the beginning of the season, so I just wanted to knuckle down, get stuck in and bat for as long as I can,” Hendricks said.

Pace bowler Lutho Sipamla seems to have proven his fitness by bowling several spells during breaks in play against the Rocks. The condition of the Centurion pitch will determine whether he is brought back into the XI, however.

“The SuperSport Park pitch has generally done a bit more than the Wanderers this season, and it’s quicker with more bounce. So it will be a nice challenge,” Hendricks said.

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