Both sides involved in today’s Momentum One Day Cup play-off will tell you that it’s just another game of cricket.
Except that the stakes are a lot higher when the Highveld Lions and Warriors clash at the Wanderers this afternoon with a place in Sunday’s final against the Cape Cobras going to the victors.
“It’s what you prepare for. You just want to get yourself in a position where it comes down to this week,” Lions captain Stephen Cook said during his side’s training session at the ground yesterday.
“If you play good cricket this week you find yourself with a trophy if you don’t play well you end up mid-table,” he added.
The Lions won’t have batsman Temba Bavuma or spinner Eddie Leie available for the clash with the pair suffering with a back injury and shoulder niggle respectively. But they may be buoyed by the return of all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and fast-bowler Hardus Viljoen.
Both went through their paces at the nets yesterday and seemed to come through it which suggests they may be back to full fitness.
“I’ve tried to instil in the guys that it’s just another game of one day cricket to get extra nervous won’t help anyone. Knockout games are a time for big players to step up and put in big performances. Those are the guys that can handle the pressure,” Cook said referring to the likes of Alviro Petersen, the highest run-getter in the tournament so far, and the returning duo.
On the fact of it it would appear that it’s going to be up to the Lions top order to get the job done with the bat as they seem a little thin on that front.
“We’re feeling confident. I think they’re a dangerous side, particularly in one day cricket. They’ve got some genuine match winners,” Cook said of the opposition.
“We’ve played well against them here and beaten them in all three formats so hopefully there’s some mental scarring there.”
Warriors mentor Malibongwe Maketa was in agreement with Cook’s sentiment that the game could well be decided by one or two standout performers on the day.
“Big games like this are usually determined by big performances. Games of cricket are not won on paper. We’ve got guys who are willing to fight all the way and we’ve shown that throughout this competition. It’s a big opportunity,” Maketa said.
A link to CricInfo’s live scoring of the game can be found here