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|Marchant de Lange||5.0||2||7||1||1.40|
Lions failed to hold their nerve yet another time in the tournament as they ended by losing their last game, to Cape Cobras, by a fine margin. With just three more matches to go, Lions do not really have any more options, but to win all their remaining contests and they couldn't have asked for a better fixture than their upcoming game as they take on wooden-spoon holders, Knights, on 9th March at Bloemfontein. Despite registering super-terrible performances in all of the matches they've played, the Knights are still in the contention. However, going by the way they've done in the tournament thus far, the chances of them qualifying for the next round are bleak - which they'll be desperate to prove wrong starting by posting a win against Lions in their next match.
So close yet so far. If Lions' journey in the tournament had to be summed up in five words, that would be it. On numerous occasions in the ongoing competition, the Lions have finished second-best despite having a more than fifty-fifty chance at one stage.
It wasn't any different in their last encounter which they lost to Cape Cobras by a narrow margin of just three runs. Bowling first after winning the toss, the Lions didn't get off to a start they were looking for. The Malan brother got Cobras off to a reasonable start and the advantage was further stretched by some brilliant batting by PJ Malan and JP Duminy in the middle overs. Even though the Lions bounced back in the death overs, the Cobras still managed to get 281 runs on the board. Barring Pretorius and Fortuin, who both returned with the figures of 46 for 2, no bowler was really able to make any real impression.
Considering the nature of the surface and the possibility of dew having an impact, the total wasn't really too difficult to hunt down. However, except for Dominic Hendricks and Pretorius, no batsman was able to stay at the wicket let alone score runs. Lions kept losing wickets in bunches before Hendricks and Pretorious partnership brought them back in the match. Hendricks dismissal in the 42nd over triggered a mini-collapse as Lions missed the target by a small margin.
Patrick Kruger, AGS Gous, Keegan Petersen, PJ van Biljon, RS Second, Grant Mokoena, Ryan McLaren, Marchant de Lange, Eddie Leie, Ottneil Baartman, T Ntuli.
If there's one team which Lions would have played to play at this point in time, its Knights. Knights are currently languishing at the bottom of the table and will need to win at least four of their remaining five games to even have a mathematical chance of qualification. They're yet to win a game in the Momentum Cup this year and the same old story was repeated when they met Dolphins in their last match.
Batting first, the Knights got off to a worst possible start as they lost Mokoena on only the third delivery of the match. Gous and Petersen brought them back into the match with an important 68-run stand, but they both went in quick succession as they were soon reduced to 87 for 4. Ryan McLaren and RS Second played well to bail them out with the respective knocks of 74 and 47, as Knights ended up with 254 runs on the board.
Unlike what we have seen in the tournament so far, the Lions bowled reasonably well and kept Dolphins quiet for a remarkable amount of time. With the game hanging slightly in favor of Dolphins, but still Knights pretty much in contention, rain announced it's arrival as the match was concluded with Duckworth-Lewis method. Marchant de Lange was highly impressive and picked up three wickets at the expense of just 35 runs. He is likely to play a key role in the tournament for Knights to find the winning ways.
Dominic Hendricks, Kagiso Rapulana, Temba Bavuma, Wihan Lubbe, Delano Potgieter, NJ Van den Bergh, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, MP Siboto, Aaron Phangiso, Nandre Burger.
Just like the top of the table clashes, the encounters between the teams placed at the bottom of the table can be highly exciting. Both Lions and Knights have failed consistently in the tournament with Lions just marginally ahead of the Knights as far as the points table is concerned. Having said that, the Lions have looked to be a better team and have consistently been in winning positions before eventually falling short. They have a batting lineup which is in-form and goes deep. Considering the aforementioned form and the form Dominic Hendricks is in, the Lions are better placed to win the upcoming must-win contest.
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