Ram Slam T20 Challenge: bizhub Highveld Lions vs WSB Cape Cobras Preview

Batsman Hits Ball

We preview Friday 17 November's Ram Slam T20 Challenge match between the bizhub Higveld Lions and the WSB Cape Cobras to be played at the Wanderers. 

Friday evening’s televised match sees the bizhub Highveld Lions go head to head with the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras at the Bullring.

With both franchises failing to win their opening encounters, this fixture almost becomes a must win with neither team wanting to fall even further behind the pacesetters.

Lions vs Cobras | Friday 17 November | The Wanderers, Johannesburg | 18:00

To Win Match
bizhub Highveld Lions 1/1 | Tie 35/1 | WSB Cape Cobras 82/100

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bizhub Highveld Lions
Let’s be honest, the bizhub Highveld Lions were never really expected to beat the Titans in the second match of last Sunday’s double-header. While they put up a good enough fight (thanks largely to Reeza Hendricks) with the bat, their bowlers were simply blown away by the power of AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel.

They will need to form a few more partnerships at the top of the innings against the Cobras this Friday. Rassie van der Dussen will be itching to get a big score after being dismissed for a duck against the Titans.

The 28-year-old was one of the standout players last season and has proven his quality across all three formats of the domestic game. He will need to start coming good soon, though. The Lions don’t have the strongest batting unit around and rely quite heavily on their top three of van der Dussen, Hendricks and Mangaliso Mosehle.

They will need to be especially good against a loaded Cape Cobras attack, who will look to bounce back from a pretty indifferent performance last week against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins. While I worry about the Lions' depth in terms of batting, they have no such problems in the bowling department.

I really hope that Geoffrey Toyana opts to bring Hardus Viljoen back into the side. The big man finished top of the wicket-taking charts last season with 19 accompanied by an average of 16.63 and a magnificent economy rate of 7.64. He generates incredible pace and bounce and will be aided by conditions in Johannesburg, especially if his side bowls first.

The pace of Viljoen coupled with the control of Kagiso Rabada would be the ideal combination on a fresh Wanderers pitch. Who they’d drop to facilitate that change remains to be seen. Bjorn Fontuin seems like the obvious choice here. I’m not sure you really need more than one specialist spinner at the Bullring.

Aaron Phangiso will play as the sole specialist spinner while Wiaan Mulder, Dwaine Pretorius and Beuran Hendricks look set to keep their places in the side. It'll be interesting to see which way Toyana goes in terms of his selections, but something definitely needs to change in order to accommodate Viljoen.

WSB Cape Cobras
I was bitterly disappointed with the way that the WSB Cape Cobras bowled against the Dolphins last week. Dane Paterson’s first over to Morne van Wyk was an absolute joke for a player of his undoubted quality. He will likely play again this Friday but will need to get his lines right if he wants to keep himself in Ottis Gibson’s – and indeed Ashwell Prince’s – plans.

The rest of the attack didn’t fare much better with Vernon Philander going for 49 in four, Rory Kleinveldt going for 36 in three and JP Duminy conceding 40 in three. While I’m sure they won’t get as bad of pasting in this match, there will no doubt be a few nerves among the attack.

Batting wise, I enjoyed watching Hashim Amla take the initiative against the Dolphins bowlers. Ultimately, his 27-ball 52 wasn’t enough to take the Cape side over the line. I was also really impressed with Aviwe Mgijima. The 29-year-old not only supported Hash but attacked the Dolphins bowlers on his way to a fine 19-ball 37*.

I have to say that the senior guys didn’t look good. Richard Levi fiddled around before top-edging a Robbie Frylinck delivery which was easily held by Dane Vilas. Temba Bavuma hit a short, wide delivery from Keshav Maharaj straight to Sibonelo Makhanya at backward point before Duminy was caught well short of his ground as Prenelan Subrayen reacted well in the field to run out the Cobras’ captain.

A much-improved team performance will be required then unless the Cobras want to start falling behind the top teams. The last thing they need now is a slump having just sorted out the administration issues brought about by Paul Adams' tenure as coach. Prince has them going in the right direction, he just needs a bit more from the players themselves.

Verdict: bizhub Highveld Lions 1/1
I’m not really sure whether or not Cobras have recovered from their loss against the Dolphins last week. The Lions should be strong at home, especially if Viljoen returns to beef up their attack. I really like the Highveld team at even money – small stake on.