JOHANNESBURG - All eyes will be fixed on the sky on Friday as the Titans hope to avoid the early summer Highveld storms that have denied them game time in their last two RamSlam matches.
The Titans last played on November 19 when they thrashed the Cape Cobras in Centurion, and they haven’t had the opportunity since to build on their excellent start to the tournament.
Rain is proving to be a significant player in this season’s tournament. The majority of the Dolphins’ points are due to rained out games, and they occupy third place on the log.
Because of their dominance in their first four matches - which included victories with three bonus points, the Titans haven’t been unduly impacted by not playing their last two matches.
They still sit 11 points ahead of the team in second, the Cobras, who’ve won their last three matches and are slowly starting to assert themselves in the manner of a side that contains so much international experience.
The Titans will host the Warriors in Benoni on Friday, with initial weather forecasts suggesting they’ll finally get a game in after twiddling their thumbs at the Willowmoore Park a week ago and again at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
For all their experience and the thoroughness of their training the Titans will be wary about their rhythm being upset from not having played for almost two weeks. The likes of Chris Morris - returning from a back ailment - and Heinrich Klaasen have all been looking forward to a game and their frustration must be growing.
The tournament is heading towards that critical juncture where coach Mark Boucher will want to settle on something approaching his best team and having not had the chance to assess all his players - outside of training - there may be cause for some concern.
The Warriors have won just once this season, courtesy of a gift from the Highveld Lions, and they are getting ever closer to a "must win" scenario. For all their fighting qualities, which saw them qualify for the finals in both white ball competitions last season, the presence this summer of all the Proteas in the opposing ranks has left them struggling.
JJ Smuts isn’t producing as he did last season while Colin Ingram and Colin Ackerman have contributed only fleetingly with the bat.
In the previous meeting between the two sides in East London two weeks ago, the Warriors had given the Titans a scare, racing to 50/0 in five overs in pursuit of 172 before Lungi Ngidi crushed their hopes by picking up 4/14 to set up a 60-run win. It’s hard to see, despite the lack of match time for the Titans recently, anything other than a similar outcome at Willowmoore Park - weather permitting.
The Lions head to Bloemfontein to face the Knights aware that their confidence needs a lift after a terrible weekend in the Western Cape last week. Two defeats in matches they should have won has led to a lot of scratching of heads in the Lions dressing-room, and they increasingly look like a team that shifts violently between brilliance and mediocrity. A steady and composed performance in Bloemfontein will do them the world of good.