Cook’s back, Bavuma set to re­gain mojo

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

THE Dol­phins host the Li­ons in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg this morn­ing, in the eighth round of a heated Sun­foil Se­ries cam­paign. The men from Dur­ban top the stand­ings, with just three rounds to go, while the Li­ons are lan­guish­ing at the wrong end of the table, by their usual stan­dards. This week’s con­test, then, is an op­por­tu­nity to get back in the mix.

The Li­ons are com­ing off a hard-fought derby draw against the Ti­tans last week, and coach Ge­of­frey Toy­ana is keen to see his troops kick on from that.

“There were a lot of pos­i­tives in Benoni,” Toy­ana said. “We need to carry on that mo­men­tum in Mar­itzburg in what is a big game. With the com­pe­ti­tion so tight, it’s im­por­tant for us to do well.”

The Li­ons have lost some men to na­tional duty, but they also get back a few big play­ers from the Proteas.

Aaron Phangiso, who cap­tained them dur­ing the T20 Chal­lenge, is on na­tional T20 duty, as well as wick­et­keeper/bats­man Man­gal­iso Mosehle.

Har­dus Viljoen, the bustling open­ing bowler who started the sea­son with rel­ish, is out with a groin strain, and the Li­ons do have a handy con­tin­gency plan.

Cape Co­bras’ left-armer Beu­ran Hen­dricks is a loan sign­ing, and is ex­pected to fea­ture in Mar­itzburg. Sig­nif­i­cantly, the Li­ons also re­gain the ser­vices of their cap­tain and open­ing bat, Stephen Cook. The vet­eran has been in de­cent touch in the Test arena, and Toy­ana will lean heav­ily on him to lead from the front against the Dol­phins.

The Li­ons also have the strug­gling Temba Bavuma in their ranks, and the Dol­phins will be wary of the mid­dle-or­der star re­dis­cov­er­ing his touch in Mar­itzburg, of all places. Bavuma has had a lean patch in na­tional colours, and may jump at the op­por­tu­nity to har­vest some runs and con­fi­dence away from the re­lent­less in­tro­spec­tion of the na­tional team.

For the Dol­phins, things couldn’t be bet­ter placed. Grant Mor­gan has started get­ting men off the treat­ment table, and back on the park. But he is wary of them get­ting ahead of them­selves.

“Ev­ery­thing can change very quickly,” Mor­gan warned. “I mean, we could drop from first to fifth, so we are not look­ing at it like that. We are look­ing at do­ing the small things well, and hope­fully that will help us achieve the de­sired re­sult.”

Andile Phehluk­wayo, who was also in­jured, has gone to the na­tional T20 side, but he does have a handy re­place­ment.

Ke­shav Ma­haraj, who has had a dream sum­mer in na­tional colours, is back to lend his ex­per­tise with bat and ball. On a Mar­itzburg wicket that usu­ally turns as the game wears on, Ma­haraj should be a factor in the third or fourth in­nings.

The Dol­phins, perched atop the stand­ings, know that a win will go a long way to­wards paving a path to the ti­tle.

“We don’t want to be afraid of los­ing, and we don’t want to think of the things that can go wrong. But we want to think of what we can do right,” Mor­gan added.

“We are play­ing well at the mo­ment, and can build on that this week­end.”

The match in Mar­itzburg starts at 9am from to­day.

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