Cape Town – Interim Knights coach Alan Kruger is wary of the dangers
his side face when they come up against the “form team in
the country” in the Highveld Lions when the two clash in their
penultimate 4-Day Domestic Series encounter in Bloemfontein from Monday.
The Johannesburg-based side are on a role, having won three
of their last four games, including a record innings and 239-run triumph over
champions the Titans this past week.
That result, coupled with the Warriors upsetting the
log-leading World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in Cape Town, has thrown the title
race wide open.
The Lions only trail the Cobras by little more than a point
heading into the round nine fixtures and Kruger is anticipating a difficult
game at Mangaung Oval.
“Playing against the Lions is going to be a huge challenge,”
“They’re the form team in the competition at the moment, a very
dangerous side and they’ll have that extra spring in their step after the
results of this past week.
“Everyone in their side is firing, so we’re going to have to
work hard to try to nullify them.”
The Knights are out of the running for the title, but
Kruger, who is in charge after head coach Nicky Boje departed for a new role in
the United Kingdom over Christmas, wants his team to continue improving in the
last two matches of the campaign.
They drew with the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in
Pietermaritzburg this past week and the coach added: “For us it’s about
continuation and trying to finish as high up on the table as possible.
“We need to do our basics correctly, focus in house and try
and do what we can as best we can.
“I think key for us will be starting on the front foot. We
haven’t managed that in a few games, we’re mainly playing catch-up cricket, so
hopefully this time things will be different.”
Lions coach Enoch Nkwe, meanwhile, was thrilled with their
showing this week and praised his players for the way they performed. “It was
just a fantastic performance overall,” he stated. “Initially we were unsure
what to do at the toss, we bowled and the players all responded superbly.
“The bowlers did so well as a unit and then the batsmen,
from Dom and Nicky to Kagiso Rapulana, changed the momentum of the game.
“It was really exciting to see and I am very proud of the
Nkwe is also thrilled that the title race is now going down
to the wire, adding: “We’re just happy that we managed to get a win out of the
past four days.
“That has got us closer to the Cobras…I think
one-and-a-half points is the difference…so that makes it really exciting for
South African cricket to have such a closely-fought first-class season.
“Hopefully it goes into the last week where both teams have
to get a win to make it even more exciting.
“We just want to take it a day at a time and trust what has
got us to this point. We’ll keep believing and try to control whatever we can
until the end.”