Warriors ready for battle
Eastern Cape franchise out to claim Highveld Lions' scalp in T20 challenge final at 'the Bullring'
The Warriors have not suffered defeat in their last five encounters against Highveld Lions, but they know that statistic will count for little when the teams meet in the CSA T20 Challenge cricket final in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Having shared CSA's OneDay Challenge trophy with the Dolphins last season, the Warriors have the ideal opportunity to follow that up with another piece of silverware.
It is a fact that the Lions have struggled over the past three seasons, with four losses and a rained-out clash in their most recent games against the Eastern Cape franchise in this format of the game.
It is difficult to understand why the Warriors have been so dominant considering the vagaries of T20 cricket and the strength of the Lions’ teams.
But it also speaks to the quality of cricket the Warriors have been playing over the past three seasons.
Fittingly, the tournament’s two form teams will fight it out for honours.
The Lions finished top of the T20 Challenge log and the Warriors second.
The Lions triumphed over the Dolphins by eight wickets in the early semifinal on Wednesday before the Warriors claimed a 15-run win over the Cape Cobras later in the evening at Buffalo Park stadium.
The Warriors will be preparing themselves for very different conditions up on the Highveld from what they experienced in East London, but they will be quietly confident, having beaten the Lions at the Wanderers by nine wickets just more than a week ago.
“It is going to be very different conditions but we are really looking forward to it. Sunday afternoon final, at the Bullring . . . . guys dream about that their whole lives and we are going to get to experience that on Sunday,” Warriors coach Rivash Gobind said.“It is going to be a great day, a great event and if we can come in and do what we did in the semifinal regardless of the result I will be very happy.”The Warriors are sweating over the fitness of Proteas seamer Lutho Sipamla, who injured a quad muscle in the semifinal victory over the Cobras on Wednesday.Although he still has to get the go-ahead from the Warriors’ medical team, Gobind is confident Sipamla will get on to the field.Matthew Breetzke, Gihahn Cloete, captain Jon-Jon Smuts, Marco Marais, Sine Qeshile have all contributed with the bat during this campaign and will be key for the Warriors on Sunday, as will Sisanda Magala and Andrew Birch with the ball.The Lions team will boast the likes of Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin and Aaron Phangiso.The Warriors leave for Johannesburg on Saturday and Cricket Eastern Cape are calling all fans to join them at the airport for a send-off from 9am.Fans have been asked to bring their banners and “gees” and join the St George’s band to get behind the team.St George’s Park will also broadcast the final live on the big screen at the field and fans have also been invited to bring their picnic baskets and “skottelbraais”.Entrance is free and the match gets under way at 2.30pm.