JOHANNESBURG – The Titans have not found the going as easy in this season’s T20 Challenge as was the case in the last three summers when they dominated the league phase and ultimately went onto win the title three times in a row.
To be fair to the defending champions, no one has found it easy going in this extended part of the season. Rain has led to 10 matches being abandoned, with the Titans suffering three “rain outs” although that is not even as bad as their opponents tonight, the Knights, who have had five of their eight matches washed out.
It’s only prudent to point out that clear skies have been forecast for today in Centurion. The Knights will be delighted and given their precarious position at the foot of the table the mathematics for them to qualify for the playoffs are clear: win both of their remaining games with a bonus point - although even that may not be enough.
The Titans will be chasing that extra point as well of course to keep themselves within the top four, thereby earning a spot in the playoffs. They aren’t used to that. In their three consecutive championship winning seasons they topped the log comfortably each time, earning home finals in the process.
The slightly changed playoff structure this season - which grants four spots instead of three - does provide wiggle room, but they would rather not have too much pressure for the final round-robin match on Sunday against neighbours the Highveld Lions.
MATCH DAY! The Sky Blues return to the fortress today to take on the VKB Knights. #T20Challenge #TTNvKNI— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) April 26, 2019
🕓 16:00 Gates open
🕠 17:30 Toss and Team News
🕕 18:00 First ball bowled. pic.twitter.com/Xk61aQNjFv
It has been a quirky season for the Titans (as it has for everyone really). Their batsmen have been in good touch, with four of them featured in the top 10 leading run-scorers in the tournament. Theunis de Bruyn’s aggregate of 303 sees him as the leading run-scorer, while Diego Rosier (160), who has played some impressive innings in the competition, Henry Davids (152) and Tony de Zorzi (139) have all contributed with the willow.
The Titans’ problem has been with the ball. They have conceded three of the seven highest totals in the competition this season, losing two of those matches, the last one being in Paarl on Wednesday night when the Cape Cobras chased down 183 with seven balls to spare.
Junior Dala with eight wickets is very much their primary performer, but there is little wicket-taking support from the remaining bowlers. In fact between them the Titans’ other four bowlers have taken 10 wickets and while their two spinners, Gregory Mahlokwana and Shaun von Berg have good economy rates nothing halts momentum like taking wickets and the Titans need to give Dala more help in that category.@shockerhess