Pre-tournament forecasts had the Titans as outright favourites for this season’s RamSlam competition, with the Cape Cobras as their strongest challengers.
However just one week into the tournament, there’s already a 14-point gulf between the two Protea-packed sides.
They meet at SuperSport Park this afternoon, and anything other than a Titans win would come as a major shock.
They have been the dominant team in the competition, winning two of their three matches with a bonus point, and missing out on the extra point by just one run in an otherwise powerful display against the Knights in Kimberley last Wednesday.
In contrast, the Cobras have been poor with the ball - despite the presence of so many high quality seamers, have lacked impetus with the bat and been shocking in the field. That latter aspect of their play is probably the most worrying. With the exception of a handful of players, their movement in the outfield is a weakness that their opponents thus far - the Dolphins and the Lions - have made no secret of exploiting.
It’s left the Cobras captain JP Duminy in a quandary, for he can certainly ‘hide’ one or two less athletic players in the field, but the Cobras currently have four or five and the Titans are the type of side who will ruthlessly expose any shortcomings in their opponents.
The other disappointing part of the Cobras’ performances in their first two matches has been the bowling. Any attack that can call upon Vernon Philander, Dane Paterson, Wayne Parnell and leave out Rory Kleinveldt as the Cobras did at the Wanderers on Friday, is one that should be performing a whole lot better than has been the case so far.
The rookie Mthiwekhaya Nabe has arguably been the best bowler, but that’s mainly down to the fact that at least in his case there’s been some semblance of a plan.
Philander has largely stuck with the method that works well for him in first class cricket, but as the Dolphins’ Sarel Erwee showed in Centurion last week, if the opposing batsman is willing to take a risk, as batsmen naturally do in the shortest format, even the most disciplined bowler can be put under pressure.
As a result of their struggles with the ball and in the field, a lot of strain has been put on their batsmen, and in that regard the Cobras can ill-afford to carry a passenger as has been the case with Richard Levi in those first two games, who’s posted scores of 7 and 0.
Perhaps he’ll be given another shot today, but if he fails again then Cobras coach Ashwell Prince and the franchise’s selectors must surely look elsewhere.
The Titans have included all-rounder Chris Morris in their squad for this afternoon’s match, but whether he’ll start remains to be seen.
Such is the amazing depth at that franchise, that they have dropped Dean Elgar entirely despite him scoring 34 off 25 balls against the Warriors on Friday. That decision would normally lead one to wonder what Mark Boucher and the selectors were smoking, but in Elgar’s stead they’ve picked one AB de Villiers.
Right now the Titans are running away at the top of the RamSlam log, the Cobras have yet to register a win and so the onus is very much on the Cape team to now step it up.
In the other match today, the Highveld Lions host the KZN Dolphins in Potchefstroom. Both start at 2.30pm.