Cape Town - Knights coach Alan Kruger admits that the 4-Day Domestic Series title is within touching distance of their round seven opponents, the Cape Cobras, ahead of their showdown at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein starting from Friday.
With just four rounds of the competition remaining, the visitors are way ahead of the pack, with over 30 points separating them from the second-placed Highveld Lions.
The gap is nearly 44 between the leaders and the third-placed Titans, also the defending champions, illustrating how far ahead of everyone else the Cobras have been and Kruger has praised the work of counterpart Ashwell Prince ahead of the game.
“There’s still four games to go and my feeling is that it’s for the Cobras to lose at the moment. That’s my honest opinion.
“They’re flying and Ashy P (Prince) has done a wonderful job there with his team. A lot of their players are in form and they are looking strong candidates for that title.”
Kruger was assistant coach to Nicky Boje when the Knights ran the Cobras close – losing by four wickets – in the opening game of the season.
He has now taken over on an interim basis and is hopeful they can go better against the Cape side this weekend.
“It’s going to take a huge effort from us to beat them,” he explained.
“Even though we are all chasing them, everyone has bragging rights and wants to finish as close behind them as possible.
“We are no different, so we’ll go out there positively and try to beat them. We came close the first game and want to try and go a bit better this time to try and overcome them this weekend.”
The Knights have run most of the top sides close in 2018/19, but still find themselves only fourth on the table.
In the last round, they lost to the Titans, although Kruger was proud of their effort.
“I thought we were outstanding on the surface we played on, but in the end their experience and the innings of Faf du Plessis in the first innings was a key difference,” he added.
“That was the game breaker, so it was a bit disappointing for us to lose. I'm confident we will do better this time.”
Contrary to Kruger’s belief, a humble Prince insisted it was too early to be talking about titles or trophies.
“I don’t necessarily see it as our title to lose,” he says.
“We won four games in a row at the start of the season, so who’s to say that someone else can’t do the same now. That will put them right in the mix.
“I believe there’s a lot of cricket still to be played and we’re just taking it one game at a time at this stage.”
Nonetheless, his Cobras side have been hugely impressive this season – they have five wins from six - and will be looking to continue that run in the Free State.
“We did well in the last game (against the Warriors), the only thing disappointing was how we lost wickets in a clump in that first innings.
“A lot of credit must go to our bowlers and our captain, Dane Piedt for the way they bowled in the game.”