JOHANNESBURG - The travelling T20 All-Stars, aka, the Titans take their show to their alternative home in Benoni on Friday night, hopeful of being tested a bit more than has been the case hitherto in the RamSlam when they face the KZN Dolphins.
Albie Morkel’s men have been in cruise control through the first four rounds of the competition, swatting aside opponents while opening up an 11 point lead on the log and have already qualified for the play-offs.
Dominance by one team can become boring of course, although boredom at watching the Titans win is off-set by the brilliance in which they go about winning.
Whether it’s AB de Villiers sweeping Kagiso Rabada for six, Dale Steyn bowling at close to his fastest or Tabraiz Shamsi charging in off the boundary to take a one-handed diving catch after he’d told his teammates he’d do just so before the match, there’s no doubting the Titans are the most fun sporting ticket in town at the moment.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re entirely happy with how they’ve played.
Morkel wants his team to be tested, and has said he’s not always been happy with their fielding and feels the bowlers haven’t always performed with the requisite discipline.
He’s also concerned about the balance of his team, saying six frontline batsmen - himself included - is not a number he prefers.
“If we lose two wickets early, we have to play a bit differently, so that is a concern for us,” said Morkel.
With Steyn back in Cape Town for some extra work strengthening his shoulder following three consecutive matches in the RamSlam, it appears David Wiese will get his second start of the tournament at Willowmoore Park.
That will provide some extra depth to the Titans’ batting. Quinton de Kock has not been included in the squad either, with the big-hitting Heinrich Klaasen getting an opportunity.
That is likely to mean Aiden Markram, who’s been in terrific form all season, will shift up to open the innings alongside veteran Henry Davids - so it’s not as if the Titans are being significantly weakened.
Morkel recognises that the Dolphins are a well balanced side with strong batting led by skipper Khaya Zondo, which is supplemented by the Dane Vilas and Sarel Erwee.
In Andile Phehlukwayo and Robbie Frylinck they have two bruising all-rounders who are also among the best ‘death’ bowlers in the competition, while Keshav Maharaj and Imran Tahir provide control and an attacking threat.
It will certainly be a test for the Titans batsmen facing such an attack, which in turn will examine how good the bowling is. Morkel’s bowlers have only had to bowl "death" at training and he is keen for them to be put under pressure in a match so that those elements can be analysed.
If it smacks of a bit of arrogance from the Titans, it genuinely isn’t. They are a side very keen to push the boundaries this season and the level of competition - despite a number of big names in the opposition ranks - has not allowed them to do so.
RamSlam T20 Challenge fixtures:
Friday: (6pm start) Multiplay Titans vs HollywoodBets Dolphins, Benoni; VKB Knights vs Warriors, Bloemfontein; WSB Cape Cobras vs Bizhub Highveld Lions, Paarl.
Sunday: Warriors vs Bizhub Highveld Lions, Newlands (12pm); WSB Cape Cobras vs VKB Knights, Newlands (4pm)