Some harsh truths would have been spoken in the Titans’ dressing-room following their four-wicket defeat against the Cape Cobras on Friday night, which saw the Cape side shoot to the top of the table.
It was a very messy display from the defending champions at SuperSport Park, with their batsmen showing little intent, their bowlers off the mark with both lines and lengths and their fielding lacking energy and discipline.
Coach Mark Boucher, skipper Albie Morkel and other senior players like Farhaan Behardien will not have held back in their critiquing of that display and a response in Benoni can be expected.
How the Warriors deal with that will be interesting. The Eastern Cape franchise is still under the tutelage of caretaker coach Rivash Gobind following Malibongwe Maketa’s elevation to the Proteas set-up, and they’ve won just one game, against a ramshackle Highveld Lions in the tournament’s opening game. Since then they’ve suffered heavy defeats against the Cobras (by 67 runs) in Oudtshoorn, and were spun out last Friday by Imran Tahir in a 79-run defeat against the Dolphins.
There are no mysteries when it comes to the Warriors; they’re a hard-working side who rely heavily on their leadership core that includes skipper Jon-Jon Smuts, elegant right-hander Colin Ackermann and the big-hitting Christiaan Jonker. With the ball, Andrew Birch and Sisanda Magala are a challenging new ball pair, while Smuts and Ackerman are useful slow bowlers, and in the last match against the Dolphins were supported by Simon Harmer.
They will realise and make their teammates aware of how hard they can expect the Titans to come at them. The Titans will feel that they’ve gotten their bad game out of their systems, but there will be plenty for individuals to prove after a poor show against the Cobras.
JP Duminy’s Cape side will be in action at the Wanderers, their confidence no doubt up after a sweet win in Centurion in which they bowled with great discipline and then were quick to recognise how charitable the Titans were in the field and put them under pressure.
The Lions played to a tie against the Knights in Kimberley on Friday and will hope Rassie van der Dussen can take recent good form - he's made 35, 49 and 67 in his last three innings, and score a big one. Both matches start at 10am.