CAPE TOWN - The Titans juggernaut swaggered into a sweltering Cape Town on Thursday. Equally as scorching as the Mother City’s temperatures this week has been the red-hot form of the men from Centurion.
Mark Boucher’s team are the runaway leaders in the RamSlam T20 Challenge with 32 points, with a home semi-final secured, while the remaining five teams are involved in a bun-fight for the remaining three playoff places this weekend.
The Cape Cobras, who face the unbeaten Titans in a top-of-the-table clash at Newlands on Friday, are second with 18 points. The Cobras’ final round-robin game is against the Warriors in East London on Sunday.
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince, though, does not want his team involved in a potential “quarter-final” and believes his team have the quality to halt the Titans express.
“As far as we’re concerned nobody is invincible,” said Prince. “We believe we can stop them and it’s important to stop them (on Friday).
“We need to win to try and reach the semi-finals; we’re at home and we have to go away on Sunday to the Warriors, who may well be needing a win to get through. So hopefully we can get the job done and hopefully we’ll peak at the right time of the season.”
After a disastrous start to the campaign, the Cobras have hit form at the perfect juncture with four wins from their last five matches (the fifth being a washed-out encounter against the Dolphins).
There is certainly momentum gained from a tense five-run victory over the Knights in Kimberley on Wednesday evening, when the Cobras defended 156. Promising death bowler Ferisco Adams’s reputation continues to grow - the young Boland seamer defended just 11 runs in the final over.
Prince was certainly thrilled with the victory, but believes his team have not played to their full potential yet. “It was another good win and I think obviously it’s the points which are important at this stage of the season.
“We managed to get them and it was also another close game which we managed to win. We spoke after the game and it was raised that we’re still not firing on all cylinders.
“We are getting over the line, and showing that character is important, but we’re leaving a good 20 to 30 percent in the bank there.”
It’s a scorcher of a day in Cape Town, perfect day to head to @NewlandsCricket for some @T20Challenge action between the WSB Cape Cobras and @Titans_Cricket. Gates open at 16:30, bar opens at 16:45, Game starts at 18:00. Tickets available at the ticket office throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/7M3vr989cg
Meanwhile, Titans coach Mark Boucher will most likely shuffle his star-studded squad for Friday's clash. AB de Villiers has been left back in the nation’s capital, with Proteas Test opener Dean Elgar set to get a rare run out in the shortest format, while Lungi Ngidi is also set to return to the line-up.
Boucher does not believe this to be an act of complacency, but rather an indication that anybody coming into the Titans side can do the job.
“I’m not worried at all because the momentum is all with us,” Boucher said. “We’ve won every game bar one (against the Knights in the last game) convincingly.
“It’s more or less about how we prepare, and if we’ve done that properly and our intensity is good, I believe we can beat any side. Everyone knows that.
“We’ve basically given ourselves a right to prepare for a semi-final and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing. If there’s a chance to rest a couple of guys, we’ll do that so we don’t have to travel-play and then travel-play again. So it’s more about planning.”
Meanwhile, Proteas all-rounder Wayne Parnell has returned to his “home” franchise, the Warriors, on loan from the Cape Cobras for the remainder of the RamSlam T20 Challenge. Parnell will play against the Lions in Potchefstroom today.
Cape Cobras squad: JP Duminy (c), Ferisco Adams, Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Rory Kleinveldt, George Linde, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kyle Verreynne
Titans squad: Albie Morkel (c), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Malusi Siboto, Dale Steyn, David Wiese