THE bizhub Highveld Lions face the VKB Knights on Friday knowing all too well that defeat at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom will end their hopes of T20 Challenge glory.
The home side are presently fourth on the table, one place out of the play-off spots, heading into their second last match of the regular season campaign.
They must beat the Knights, preferably with a bonus point, in order to have a stronger chance of finishing in third come Sunday, when they play the side that sit one point above them – the BuildNat Cape Cobras.
The men from Johannesburg had been placed 24 hours earlier, ahead of their match with the Multiply Titans, but were thumped by 46 runs in Centurion to slip down the standings.
“It’s a lot tougher now,” coach Geoffrey Toyana said. “But the equation is simple, we have to win two out of two. We have to beat the Knights and Cobras. It will be difficult but the camp is still positive and we’ll look to make amends tomorrow.”
The Knights have suffered one of the worst streaks in the competitions history by losing seven matches in a row, but Toyana is not willing to get ahead of himself.
He continued: “You can’t take them for granted. They’ve got nothing to lose and they’ll be desperate to get something before the season ends. So they’ll be dangerous and we’ll have to make sure our basics are done properly on the day.”
Defeat for the Lions, coupled with a win for the Cobras from their match against the Warriors will end the hopes for Toyana and his charges.
“We will take in one at a time, but we know we have to play well,” the coach added. “The Warriors can do us a favour by beating the Cobras, but we can’t rely on anyone at this stage. Two wins is what we have to get.”
Wiaan Mulder is pushing to be included after Matt McGillivray was ruled out due to injury.
The Knights, meanwhile, continue to falter. They looked primed for a strong total against the Cobras in their last game, before stuttering to 146/8 and subsequently being thrashed by eight wickets and over five overs to spare.
Coach Nicky Boje is still hopeful of a turnaround in the final two games.
“We had a good start on Wednesday, but the batters just couldn’t get that big total on the board,” he added. “From the position we were in at 80 or 90 after 10 overs to 140-odd, it wasn’t enough.
“It was a disappointing, but we got beaten by a very good side. We’ll stick to the same squad and hopefully we can pick up one or two wins. There’s still pride to pay for and that’s what we’ll be looking to gain from this weekend.”
The Knights end their campaign away at the Hollywoodbets Dolphins on Sunday.