The Titans, seen here celebrating their victory in the 2017 RamSlam T20, start their Abu Dhabi T20 campaign on Friday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The Titans, who have endured and enjoyed an attack of the senses in the UAE, must now display their cricket skills when they take to the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday for their opening match in the Abu Dhabi T20 tournament.

The six-time South African T20 champions - who’ve won the domestic championship for the last three seasons in a row - play their opening match of the new tournament against an Afghanistan franchise called the Boost Defenders on Friday evening.

That team will contain a few familiar faces including its skipper, and T20 ace, Colin Ingram, Kyle Abbott and Cameron Delport. Although Chris Gayle’s name had been mentioned as a participant his name was not on the squad sheet.

It does lift the veil of mystery that had surrounded the team and the Titans were hoping to study them even more closely on Thursday evening when they opened the tournament against New Zealand outfit the Auckland Aces, whom the Titans will face on Saturday. Meanwhile the the players have enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of Abu.

“The first things that hit you are the heat and humidity,” said veteran Henry Davids, who has visited the region before. “The younger guys are just not used to it, but it affects everyone, its a case of looking after yourself and hydrating properly.”

The event’s organiser, Abu Dhabi Cricket, have spared no expense in ensuring the players are well looked after and Davids admitted they’ve enjoyed the culinary delights on offer. “

“The food’s exceptional, the variety of food is awesome; it’s a case of sometimes just eating because of the flavour of the food, so you over-eat - a little bit, but that’s not too bad because you burn it off very quickly in this heat,” he added.

The usual tourists spots have proved attractive and before they sat down to watch their group opponents on Thursday some of the squad headed to Yas Island and popped in at Ferrari World, the amusement park which shows off everything related to “the prancing horse.” “We have been putting in some hard work since we got here,” said Davids on Thursday, explaining it wasn’t all play and no work.

At a function hosted by the organisers, the plans behind the event and its possible growth were laid out. “We wanted to follow something on the lines of the Fifa Club World Cup, where international teams are invited to Abu Dhabi,” the ADC's acting chief executive Matt Boucher said, referring to the annual football competition that pits the best club teams from each of the six continents against each other.

Already there has been talk about expanding the tournament next year and increasing the prize-money from the $150 000 that is up for grabs in this year’s event. “We are going to take feedback from captains of all the teams. It is an opportunity for us to learn how to be at the centre of world cricket,” Boucher added.

The Titans start their match against the Boost Defenders at 5pm (South African time) on Friday.

IOL Sport

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