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January 3, 2006
The race for the Standard Bank Cup title is fast reaching its climax, and after 30 games of exciting cricket, only two games remain before the much-anticipated final.
The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first semi-final between defending champions, Eagles, and the Lions on Friday, January 6. The second semi-final will be at Centurion, between the Titans and the Dolphins on Sunday, January 8.
The Lions currently occupy second place with 39 points after 10 matches. They have five victories under their belt and one loss, at the hands of Titans by seven wickets at Potchefstroom.
The Lions also boast the tournament's leading batsman, Stephen Cook. In his nine matches, Cook has accumulated an impressive 496 runs with a superb average of 82.66. His highest score is 116 not out.
The Eagles road to the semi-finals has not been as smooth. However, they are only two points adrift from the Lions. They will rely heavily on the fast bowling of Johan van der Wath and the offspin of Thandi Tshabalala. Van der Wath has claimed 18 wickets in nine matches at an average of 16.00, while Tshabalala has taken 11 wickets for 234 runs.
In the second semi-final, leaders the Titans will look to book their place in the final when they take on the fourth-placed Dolphins.
The Titans have played 10 games and won an impressive 70% of their matches. The two losses came against the Eagles in Bloemfontein and against a gold performance by the Dolphins at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Monday.
Right hand batsman, Johannes Myburgh, is the Titans leading batsman on 237 runs in 10 matches with a highest score of 59 not out. The Titan's 22-year-old strike bowler, Dale Steyn, boasts 14 wickets in eight matches at an average of 17.00
Lance Klusener and his men from KZN have collected 31 points in 10 matches with four wins and four losses. Andrew Tweedie, who has been consistent and accurate throughout the tournament, showed his class again yesterday at the Pietermartizburg Oval when he took 6 for 24 against the Titans. The Titans were bowled out for 73. Right hand batsman, Duncan Brown and the left-handed, Klusener are the Dolphins' leading batsmen.
Friday's semi-final at the Liberty Life Wanderers Stadium will start at 15.45, while Sunday's semi-final at SuperSport Park will start at 10.00.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Both teams face contrasting opponents in their next Test series. While West Indies will be tested against stronger teams, Bangladesh have it easier but without much to gain