Lions lose 'platinum' Ontong
The Highveld Lions will have to play their next three Pro 20 cricket matches without the injured Justin Ontong after requiring stitches in an hand injury.
The Highveld Lions will have to play their next three Pro 20 cricket matches without Justin Ontong.
Ontong hurt a finger on his right hand in the match against Western Province/Boland at the Wanderers on Friday evening.
He received stitches after he tried to catch a ball and it caught him on the finger.
Ontong is an important cog in the Lions machine. Apart from his batting, he was also the only spin bowler in the six-wicket victory over the Cape-based franchise.
Lions coach Shukri Conrad said: "It is a big setback, because Justin is not worth his weight in gold, but platinum. "However, I have great belief in our medical team and I hope he will be ready to play against the Titans at the Wanderers next week."
Ashraf Mall could be the surprise replacement for Ontong. Mall, who played for the Dolphins last season, has moved to Johannesburg because of work obligations and has started negotiations with the Lions.
Conrad said: "There is a chance that Ashraf could play for us against the Warriors in East London. "He does not have a contract with the Dolphins and it is an option that we may offer him a contract next season," Conrad said.
The coach said he was not totally pleased with his team's performance on Friday night, but added Ontong's absence in their batting lineup had made a big difference.
The coach said: "We could have perhaps pushed harder for a bonus point, but without a top batsman, you can encounter problems if you lose wickets early.
"We made a hash of several catches and could have done much better, but apart from that, it is good to start off with a victory," Conrad said.
The seamer, Garnett Kruger, who missed the first match because of flu, should be ready for the match against the Warriors on Wednesday.