The Northerns Titans and the Central Gauteng Lions will clash at SuperSport Park starting Friday in what could be the deciding game in determining this season’s winners of the 4-Day Domestic Series, with both teams looking for field players who have just been returned from New Zealand’s Proteas tour.
The Lions, runaway leaders of the four-day league for most of the season, are entering the final round under heavy pressure from not only the Titans, but also the Eastern Province Warriors.
There is only a 0.48 point gap between the Lions at the top of the list and the Warriors, who travel to Bloemfontein to play the Free State Knights.
Northerns are only 6.30 points behind the Lions in third place, so if they beat their Gauteng neighbors and the Warriors are leveled by the Knights, the Titans can claim the four-day crown.
Crucial to Northerns’ hopes is whether ace of spinner Simon Harmer, who was on the Proteas squad in New Zealand but did not play, can make it onto the field on Friday. The league’s leading wicket taker, with 35 in six games, looks eager to play, despite only landing back in South Africa on Thursday afternoon.
With pacers Dayaan Galiem, Junior Dala and Okuhle Cele all injured, Harmer would provide the much needed bite on the attack. In fact, with Tabraiz Shamsi technically available and always eager to show that he’s not just a white-ball bowler, could the Titans try to surprise the Lions with a spinners’ pitch?
The Lions have lost the most players to the Proteas and have been trying to get permission from CSA to set up players like Ryan Rickelton and Duanne Olivier, their most successful batsman and bowler respectively. Without them, they have slim choices to choose from.
Rumors that the Warriors have signed leg spinner Imran Tahir for the final round of matches are apparently false, but EP coach Robin Peterson will again be keeping a close eye on it.
Sources in Bloemfontein say the prospects are for plenty of rain, but Peterson said “your guess is as good as mine” when asked about it.
|Scenarios (courtesy of official CSA statistician Andrew Samson)|
|If Lions beat Titans and Warriors don’t win, Lions finish 1st.|
|If Titans beat Lions and Warriors don’t win, Titans finish 1st.|
|If Lions defeat Titans and Warriors, the team with the most bonus points wins first.|
|If Titans defeat Lions and Warriors, the team with the most bonus points wins first.|
|If the Lions v Titans match is drawn and Warriors win, Warriors will finish 1st.|
|Bonus points needed|
|Assuming all teams have the same bowling bonus points and the results are as above, then in the first 100|
|overs of their first innings:|
|Warriors need 25 runs more than Lions to finish above them.|
|Titans need 292 more runs than Warriors to finish above them.|
|Titans will have to make 316 more runs than Lions to finish above them.|
|For each 1 point difference in bowling points between either side, the run requirements are adjusted by 50, e.g|
|if Titans get 4 bowling bonus points and Lions get 0, then Titans need 116 runs more than Lions to finish ahead of them.|