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Ken Borland

Lions overtake all rivals on last bend & will now host 4-Day final

Posted on April 17, 2024 by Ken

The DP World Lions men’s team overtook all their opposition on the last bend and we will now host the CSA 4-Day Series final against Western Province following our impressive victory over the Titans on a sporty Centurion pitch last week.

After the frustration of a couple of draws, our Pride delivered the goods when it really mattered, beating the Titans by five wickets to claim top spot on the log after the last round of league fixtures. The DP World Lions’ red-ball game is now running like a finely-tuned motor, having dominated and being unbeaten in all their four-day matches since losing to the Warriors in Gqeberha in early December.

While the SuperSport Park pitch certainly favoured the bowlers, Lions head coach Russell Domingo was happy with the surface and says he hopes for another result pitch, but one that is fair to the batsmen, at the DP World Wanderers Stadium from Wednesday.

“The guys were fantastic against the Titans on what I thought was a good pitch. I was really pleased with the way we played and now we can take that confidence into the final. We’ve played some really good cricket lately, although we’ve had some flat pitches where we’ve struggled to finish off teams,” Domingo said.

“All I want at home for the final now is a good cricket wicket – one that rewards good batting and if you bowl well then you’ll get wickets. I will always advocate that because I believe the guys need to learn how to play long innings and how to dismiss batsmen on good pitches. We don’t want anything extreme and over five days I have no doubt we’ll get a result.”

With the current bowling unit performing so well, Lutho Sipamla making an impressive return to action last week, and Duanne Olivier and Tshepo Moreki available again after Proteas Test duty in New Zealand, Domingo may well toy with the idea of once again fielding five seamers and spinner Bjorn Fortuin.

The batting unit ought to be confident of putting enough runs on the board, especially with Zubayr Hamza, top of the competition averages, set to return after Test duty and Temba Bavuma also possibly available, depending on his rehabilitation schedule.

“It’s going to be a very tricky selection and we also need to check on the fitness of a couple of guys. But it’s great to have all of those options. I know Temba is very keen to play and Zubayr has been great for us this season,” Domingo said.

“You want all your best players to play in a final, but you also need to stay loyal to the players who have put you there. A lot of guys have played really well to get us into the final.”

A case in point is the top-class century scored by Josh Richards, which gave the DP World Lions a vital lead against the Titans. It was the first time he has been past fifty since the second match of the campaign, in mid-November, but the return to form came at a vital time.

“Josh’s innings was a game-changer, he was the one guy to get a big score in the match. It was very tough against the new ball and he’s had a few things not go for him this season. But he’s a really good opener and he showed how desperate he is to score runs,” Domingo said.

It’s the tenacity and character that Richards and the #PrideOfJozi have shown that will stand them in good stead against the World Sports Betting Western Province team, who are coming off a big win against previous log-leaders the Dolphins.

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