SOUTH Western Districts (SWD) did enough in their opening provincial cricket fixture to give them hope for the season, but they will be looking to do even better in their second fixture, starting today.
Like neighbours Eastern Province, SWD have been on the road for the first two games, and today they are back in Gauteng, where they face Northerns at the LC de Villiers Stadium at Tukkies in Pretoria.
Coach Garry Hampson and his troops are confident they will be able to build on the good start they had three weeks ago in their opening match against the Gauteng Strikers in Johannesburg.
The men from the Southern Cape pulled off a magnificent victory in the one-day match after chasing down 269 and finished strongly in the drawn three-day encounter following a slow start.
SWD trailed Gauteng by 136 runs on the first innings, but then rose to the occasion with a solid second innings effort of 277/7 after being set 321 to win.
This time, though, they will be keen to get on the winning track against Northerns, and will be looking to their bowlers to deliver them 20 wickets in the match.
Key for them in this respect will be fast bowler Gurshwin Rabie, whose experience at franchise level will be important. If he and Marcello Piedt can create early pressure, it could provide the opening SWD need to take control.
The batsmen will also need to come to the party. They were below par against Gauteng, playing catch- up after the first innings, and their biggest challenge will be finding their best form following a three- week break.
Northerns made a fine start to the season with an innings win over Boland, but then came unstuck when KwaZulu-Natal, who are leading the log, impressively chased down 343 to win by seven wickets.
Nonetheless, the Northerns batsmen have been in run-scoring form and on their home turf they will not be easy to knock over.
The SWD team: Ross McMillan (capt), Waldo Lategan, Luthando Mnyanda, Adrian McLaren, Glen Addicot, Brendon Louw, Sammy-Joe Avontuur, Gareth Dukes, Marcello Piedt, Lonwabo Rodolo, Gurshwin Rabie.
Kobus Scholtz will be added to the one- day squad.