The bizhub Highveld Lions and Cape Cobras go into their Sunfoil Series clash in Potchefstroom on the back of contrasting fortunes as the four-day season resumes on Thursday.
The men from Johannesburg can be forgiven for being in celebratory mode after beating their Cape rivals to the Momentum One-Day Cup title on Sunday.
All the partying has to be put on ice, however, as the teams prepare for the final six weeks of the season.
“We’re not at all in celebratory mode anymore,” insisted Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana ahead of the clash at Senwes Park.
“What happened on Sunday is over. We’ve had our celebrations, we’ve chatted as a squad since then about consistency and coming back for more in this final part of the season.
“The guys are all still hungry, so we’re not going to get complacent in any way. There’s still five games to play and there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.”
Toyana said he wanted their 50-over success to have an even bigger positive effect on his young charges, adding: “I’m hoping our trophy win will give us confidence and actually spur us on in these closing weeks. It’s a big push towards the end.”
The Lions, currently second on the table, are without Aaron Phangiso after Sunday, following his departure for national duty, while Eddie Leie is out injured.
They do, however, regain the services of captain Stephen Cook and Temba Bavuma – both missed the last round of games in January as they were with the Proteas. All-rounder Bjorn Fortuin is also in line for his senior team debut.
Cobras coach Paul Adams has Stiaan van Zyl back at his disposal, with Rory Kleinveldt and Beuran Hendricks also set to return.
But the game comes too soon for Vernon Philander, who is expected to feature for the Cape side over the next month. Dane Paterson is being rested.
“There’s a lot of fresh energy in the squad,” Adams, whose side are second-bottom on the table, said.
The Cobras coach also said there was little time for his team to sulk after the weekend loss to the Lions in Cape Town.
“It’s important for us to make a quick turnaround,” he added. “You can always dwell on disappointment and things like that, but that’s gone. We need to move on and that’s how it goes.”
HEAD TO HEAD – bizhub Highveld Lions v Cape Cobras
Matches Played 23
Lions Win 05
Cobras Win 09