One Day Cup
Proteas to give Cobras edge?
Dale Steyn (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Dale Steyn
, Rory Kleinveldt
, Robin Peterson
and Graeme Smith
, if fit, make up an enviable list of national players available to the Cape Cobras coach, Paul Adams, for Friday's One Day Cup Final against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
The hosts have Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile
and Imran Tahir
available, but, when one considers that the men from the Cape are all in form, with Steyn taking five wickets in the 'eliminator' against the Titans on Sunday, and Peterson and Kleinveldt having played crucial roles in the third Test victory over Australia, the Highveld Lions players are not so fortunate, barring Petersen.
Tsolekile has not played middle cricket for almost two months while Tahir only played in the second Test match and was horribly out of form.
Having a look at the possible selections for the final, one would think that the Cape Cobras would overwhelm the hosts with a Proteas-laden side.
"We don't have many of them in, Rory (Kleinveldt) has always been a part of the team, and only just toured with the Proteas now. Robin (Peterson) and Dale (Steyn) came in but our batting line-up is the complete side that has played all the time," stated Adams.
"Our side has not been unsettled that much," Adams added.
Geoffrey Toyana, coach of the Highveld Lions does not see a problem whether he has national players to choose from or not.
"The team that we have has done very, very well, but it is an option to include them. We will decide on our combinations in the next day or two, but they will be in the squad of 16 for Friday," said Toyana in an interview on Monday.
Toyana will be keeping his fingers crossed that his impressive opening bowler, Hardus Viljoen
, will be able to pass a fitness test on Tuesday evening during a practice match. Viljoen, who was the tournament’s leading wicket taker before getting injured, started the campaign off with a bang, claiming six wickets in the opening match against the Titans. Viljoen and Chris Morris
have developed a fantastic opening partnership with the new ball, and this is something that Toyana will be hoping for come Friday.
"We will make a decision on Hardus at our practice match on Tuesday night. If he cannot bowl at least six overs then he will not be considered, but we are really hoping that he comes through," said Toyana.
The Momentum One Day Cup is building up like a rumbling volcano, with the possibility of explosive hitting, top quality fast bowling and some crafty spin bowling.
These are some of the key contests: Graeme Smith
and Richard Levi
against Hardus Viljoen
and Chris Morris
; Gulam Bodi
and Stephen Cook
against Johann Louw
and Dale Steyn
; Aaron Phangiso
, who could possibly receive a call-up to the Proteas T20 side, competing with Robin Peterson
"The players must be mentally ready for a final, to handle the pressure situations, that's what it takes and this is what the national players bring to the side," said Adams.
One player the hosts, themselves, will be banking on, is former Proteas top-order batsman, Neil McKenzie
. He has been a rock for the home side, holding the innings together when things have gone 'pear-shaped', or guiding the youngsters, like Quinton de Kock, to impressive knocks.
Toyana echoed the sentiments of his rival: "they are top quality players, and they will always add value.
"Steyn bowled very well on Sunday and he has always done well at the Wanderers, but our guys will be ready for him. Our skills will have to be spot on, if we are to come out on top," Toyana added.
Should Smith's injury not heal sufficiently before Friday, then Adams stated that Andrew Puttick
The Johannesburg faithful are in for an explosive final with all the possible match-ups, the host of national players on show, the local talent out to prove a point against their more illustrious opponents. What a way to end off what has been a mouth-watering campaign.