MODC: Saturday Double-Header Preview

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We take a look at Saturday's two Momentum One Cup fixtures which will see the WSB Cape Cobras take on the Warriors at the Recreation Ground before the bizhub Highveld Lions clash with the Hollywoodbets Dolphins at Senwes Park. 

The Cobras need to bounce back from defeat to the Dolphins, while the Warriors can build on their victory over the Lions, as the 2017-18 Momentum One Day Cup heads to some of its smaller venues this weekend.

Cape Cobras v Warriors | Saturday, 23 December | Recreation Ground, Oudtshoorn | 13:30

Cape Cobras 67/100 | Tie 35/1 | Warriors 5/4

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WSB Cape Cobras
Resurgence in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, which saw four consecutive defeats followed by five straight wins before a washout robbed the Cobras of a berth in the final, suggested they would start the One Day Cup well.

That didn't materilaise, though, as the men from the Western Cape were downed by the Dolphins earlier this week. Mthiwekhaya Nabe and Dane Paterson have to improve, swiftly, as a new-ball pairing - and Aviwe Mgijima needs to buy a run from somewhere.

Mgijima has managed a mere 51 runs in his last eight innings and, if not for transformation targets, really should make way for a stronger batting option. Kyle Verreynne could be a handy replacement, ahead of Mgijima or even fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Carlos Koyana.

Whether or not Jason Smith plays ahead of Rory Kleinveldt remains in the balance. Smith was picked for the Dolphins fixture minutes before the toss. Kleinveldt might have recovered from a dislocated finger since, but Smith certainly offers more with the bat, but less with the ball.

The men from the Eastern Cape were particularly impressive in nipping promising starts from the Lions batsmen in the bud. This will need to be the case again, if Smuts, Christiaan Jonker and others are to be successfully combated.

Andrew Birch has been a bit off colour, but Sisanda Magala and Ayabulela Gqamane have stepped up during the senior statesman's mini slump. The pace and attacking angles being generated by Magala should really test the Cobras.

Much like the Cobras, the Warriors are often there and thereabouts - but can never quite positively set themselves apart from the rest. Opportunity, then, knocks for both to get one over each other.

The Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn will get its one and only One Day Cup match this season. A dry pitch is expected, suggesting the selection of two frontline spinners - or at least extra overs for Jon-Jon Smuts.

The last time the Warriors and Cobras met in this competition, at Newlands in March this year, the visitors won on the back of a big century from Smuts. He opened the batting then, but is in the middle order these days.

Verdict: Warriors
The fragility of the Cobras' top order, bar Levi, all but insists an in-form Warriors unit will succeed and consolidate their lead at the top of the six-team standings.

In the other match of the day, Wednesday's losers effectively host Thursday's winners. The Lions' batsmen have to find a way to convert promising starts, while the Dolphins could do with a centurion or two.

Lions v Dolphins | Saturday, 23 December | Senwes Park, Potchefstroom | 13:30

Lions 92/100 | Tie 35/1 | Dolphins 92/100

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bizhub Highveld Lions
Each of the Lions' top five batsmen reached double figures against the Warriors, but not one managed more than the 41 produced by Stephen Cook. This has to change at a Potchefstroom ground primed for high scores.

An air of over-reliance on Dwaine Pretorius has crept into their gameplan of late. While there is no doubting the all-rounder's talent, he can't be asked to carry the order and attack time and time again.

Hardus Viljoen will have an integral role to play. Batsmen aplenty have been flummoxed by his pace and extra bounce. Coupled with some seam movement and a bit of swing, he could be lethal.

The potential advances of Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Dane Vilas will require careful countering. The duo combine calculated hitting with choice shot selection and fine stroke play, which the Lions will have to consistently negotiate.

The Lions lost this fixture, at the same venue in March, with no-one able to bat around Dominic Hendricks' 98 for long enough. Their bowling, too, was entirely inadequate. Improvement, indeed, is in demand.

Hollywoodbets Dolphins
Van Jaarsveld and Vilas will rue an inability to graduate to triple figures earlier this week, but a couple of days later opportunity knocks to do exactly that against a bowling attack ripe for the pillaging.

Mthokozisi Shezi was lucky to pick up some late wickets against the Cobras to better otherwise disappointing figures. He'll be the first to admit he needs to keep better line and lengths in Potchefstroom.

Like Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo has to again justify at domestic level why he is on the fringes of the Proteas' first XI. He probably knows he isn't delivering on the potential once pledged.

One surmises Khaya Zondo and company will look to target Bjorn Fortuin. They were rather conservative against the spin of JP Duminy, allowing him to dictate proceedings a bit. They'll have learnt from that.

Hampered by wet weather throughout the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, the Dolphins can almost rest assured Mother Nature's sodden mood won't catch up with them on Saturday, with a high of 31 degrees Celsius and no rain predicted.

Verdict: Hollywoodbets Dolphins
There's something quite promising brewing at the Dolphins, who have the right on- and off-field resources, including an astute head coach in Grant Morgan, for another win - and a triumphant campaign.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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