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

Batsman Hits Ball

We take a look at Friday's televised Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash which sees the WSB Cape Cobras take on the bizhub Highveld Lions at Boland Park.

The Cobras will attempt to lift themselves off the bottom of the 2017 Ram Slam T20 Challenge standings with a first victory in four attempts, while the Lions want to remain within touch of the log-leading Titans.

The Cobras were arguably at their poorest against the Titans recently, while the Lions almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on the same Sunday. Both teams, indeed, have to improve.

Cape Cobras v Lions | Friday, 24 November | Boland Park, Paarl | 18:00

To Win Match
WSB Cape Cobras 82/100 | Tie 35/1 | bizhub Highveld Lions 21/20

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Cape Cobras
Coach Ashwell Prince has insisted there is no need to panic, despite a string of heavy defeats. His verbal tactics of reminding all and sundry of the Cobras' proud legacy, though, doesn't speak of their current state, which is plighted and under immense pressure. On-field results, not off-field rhetoric, are in high demand.

Hard-hitting batsman Richard Levi is in a race against time to recover from a finger injury. If he doesn't play, all the more responsibility will be placed on makeshift opener Wayne Parnell. The all-rounder is hardly impressing with bat or ball, with the hefty expectations that come with opening the batting and bowling clearly affecting him.

The Cobras and Lions met at the Wanderers exactly a week ago, when a lack of conversion from the bulk of the top- through middle-order and poor all-round performance from the bowlers resulted in defeat for the visitors. They also have to find a way of combating Kagiso Rabada and Aaron Phangiso, particularly if the speedster and spinner bowl in tandem.

The hosts will also face Beuaran Hendricks and Omphile Ramela, who left the Cape for Gauteng a season or two ago. This will bring an intriguing grudge battle within the war. If available, Levi will be key against Hendricks, while Dane Paterson will enjoy a solid duel with Ramela. The Cobras, though, might be toying with the idea of resting Paterson.

Victorious twice and beaten once, the Lions effectively have a game in hand over the Titans, so a win on Friday is vital to their bid to eventually overthrow the current log leaders and reigning champions. The services of the 2017 tournament's highest run-scorer, Reeza Hendricks, and joint-third leading wicket-taker, Aaron Phangiso, will certainly help.

The visitors will have to be mindful of the conditions. The deck at Boland Park is not going to play as quickly as the Wanderers pitch, but should still offer good value for sound shot selection and stroke play. This is, of course, is the venue where AB de Villiers almost scored an ODI double-century against Bangladesh just five weeks ago.

While Hendricks will again me the man to watch, after his scorching century over the Dolphins last week, Wiaan Mulder's efforts could prove equally entertaining. The face of the country's cricketing future boasts modesty and maturity beyond his tender age - and deals with the trials and tribulations of high-stakes situations with seamless ease.

Phangiso's role will also be in the spotlight. The veteran spin bowler has copped his fair share of criticism for reasons vast and varied over the years, but this elevation to the captaincy has evidently inspired him to bowl and behave better. He's averaging two wickets a match and proving rather economical - and conditions in Paarl should prove conducive to more of the same.

Verdict: Lions 21/20
Despite Prince's insistence on a prompt turnaround, the Cobras won't likely manage this - and instead head into Sunday's fixture against the Knights chasing a first tournament win in five attempts.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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