Durban - Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams has highlighted the importance of a strong start to the Sunfoil Series ahead of his team's campaign opener against the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
The clash at The Oval is one of three taking place in a full four-day programme across the country, with the others seeing the Titans host the Highveld Lions in Centurion and the Warriors up against the Knights in East London.
In what has been a shift to the calendar, the first-class competition is starting later than usual.
It follows the domestic One-Day Cup that was completed last week when the Cobras shared the crown with the Titans. In so doing, the Cobras clinched their sixth trophy in the last nine South African competitions.
Now they will be aiming to carry some of that momentum when they launch their title defence in KwaZulu-Natal.
"The guys are in a good space at the moment after the One-Day Cup," Adams said.
"We've been playing pretty well and I don’t expect the switch-over to be too tough. We have very much a similar squad to that which we've used all season so far.
"We are the holders and we're looking forward to having a good start to this campaign."
Adams is expecting the tournament to be tighter than last year, but aims to lay down a strong marker early on against a side that has a 5-4 winning record against them in the fixture.
"I think in the last couple of years most of the teams have been looking to challenge us," Adams said.
"We'll be looking to keep things simple and execute our skills in the best possible way.
"If you can get some victories under your belt early on, that will put you in a good position to challenge for the title."
The Dolphins, meanwhile, will be aiming to build on their third-place finish last season, which was one of their best since they won their last title seven years ago.
"We’ll take a little bit of confidence from last season, when I think a lot of the things that we were focusing on worked for us," said Dolphins coach Lance Klusener.
The Lions also did extremely well last season, scooping two of the three domestic trophies on offer and ending second in the Sunfoil Series.
However, they have endured a torrid start to this season, ending last in the one-day competition, and coach Geoffrey Toyana is looking for an immediate turnaround.
"We realise that we didn’t play well, and I think it’s time for us to make amends and play well for the remainder of the season," he said.
"There’s still a long way to go, so we’re looking forward to a fresh start."