Lions ready to roar into semis

2010-09-21 00:00

THE Highveld Lions play one of their biggest games in recent times tonight as they host Royal Challengers Bangalore in what is effectively a quarter-final match in the Champions League Twenty20.

The Lions have punched above their weight in illustrious company in this tourney, and tonight they will have the chance to keep the fairytale going at the Bullring.

In their way stands a daunting Bangalore outfit still smarting from their last-ball defeat to the Mumbai Indians on Sunday night.

A lot of calculators have been vigourously assaulted of late as statisticians try to find loopholes to keep Mumbai interested in the competition.

Alas, Sachin Tendulkar’s men cannot be saved by even mathematics, and tonight’s winner will go through to the last four, along with the all-conquering South Australian Redbacks from Group B.

The Lions, with a good mix of youthful exuberance and hardened experience, will look to the Wanderers crowd to push them over the edge tonight.

Captain Alviro Pietersen said as much after his side’s solid win over hapless Guyana.

But the Challengers will be no pushover.

Everywhere you look there is class in their side. The batting has such luminaries as Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid and Kiwi ace Ross Taylor.

The bowling is led by Dale Steyn, supported by the Kumars — Praveen and Vinay (not related) — while captain Anil Kumble will surely improve from the horror show he produced at Kingsmead on Sunday.

Kumble, at Sunday’s post-match conference, welcomed his side’s loss to Mumbai, though one seriously doubts that even he believed what he was saying.

The lanky leg-spinner said it was better that Bangalore had been beaten, as they would now play with clear heads.

“We won’t be playing negatively, worried about run-rates and such things.

“All we know is that we have to win now,” Kumble declared.

As it stands, the Lions have two more points, but a Bangalore win will see them join the Lions and Mumbai on four points apiece.

But the Challengers will squeak into the last four by virtue of having the better run-rate.

It is all rather confusing yet simple at the same time.

The winner takes all, and coach Dave Nosworthy realises that his Lions’ side is on the brink tonight.

“We have to win the match,” he said yesterday.

“Although we did ourselves some favours with our win over Guyana on Sunday, the Challengers are marginally ahead of us on net run rate. But anyway, we are not a team that worries about run rates and things like that. We are a team that plays to win.”

The Lions will have to be at their best, particularly with Steyn finding some serious form.

The Lions have a red-hot bowler of their own at the moment, with Ethan O’ Reilly taking a career-best four for 24 against Guyana at the weekend.

The batting has been a bit hit-and-miss, with individuals each shining at different times during the campaign.

Neil McKenzie, Jonathan Vandiar and skipper Pietersen have all looked in fine fettle, but they may need to pull a rabbit out of the hat tonight.

The Challengers’ new ploy of using Steyn in the second half of the innings worked well overall, and Kumble looks likely to employ it again at the Bullring.

But after their upset over Mumbai in the first match at the same venue, the Lions will have few fears tonight.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Nosworthy said.

“We will just take every over as it comes, and we know that in Twenty20, anything can happen.”

Lions v Challengers 5.30 pm SS2.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.