Our essential guide to the semi-final between the Titans and the Warriors at Supersport Park, Centurion on Wednesday.
A repeat of last season’s final, the Titans remain favourites to win the tournament despite losing their last two games. Throughout the competition they dominated their opponents, securing a home semi-final with two games in hand.
The gap between the Titans and second place was shaved to nine points after the Dolphins smashed them by 89-runs to secure a home semi-final in Kingsmead, while the Cobras’ loss to the Warriors on Sunday played a role in the gap being reduced and the prevention of a semi-final at Newlands.
The Titans decided to rest some of their stars after securing the semi-final. Notably, AB de Villiers was left out of both games while Dale Steyn, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram sat out of the final match against the Dolphins. Their return will no doubt bolster the hosts’ chances for a place in the final.
Coach Mark Boucher has a lovely headache to solve regarding the lineup. Morne Morkel and Chris Morris are two Proteas in good form heading into the match, but so are Junior Dala and Lungi Ngidi.
The Warriors should stick to their same XI and focus on their game plan, as concentration, belief and top performances from their big-hitting middle-order are key to their advancement to the final.
Keep an eye on:
The Titans have many players in their lineup who could rip any team apart.
The player who was born for this occasion though is AB de Villiers. The Proteas superstar has yet to light up the tournament thus far, with only 175 runs in five matches, an average of 59.33 and one 50, but his strike rate of 222.50 proves that he will be bubbling close to boiling point heading into the semi.
Jon-Jon Smuts has yet to reach his full lethality but has proven to be a vital part of the Warriors’ success this campaign. He’s racked up 253 runs which included two half-centuries and needs to lead his troops from the front to free up his dangerous middle-order.
It’s with the ball that he will be needed the most for his side against a hot Titans batting lineup who have struggled against spin. Smuts has eight wickets in nine matches so far with an economy rate of 8.52 and needs an all-round performance to throttle a dangerous Titans outfit.
Form (Recent first):
– The Titans have played the Warriors 25 times and beaten them 16 times, lost six, drawn one, with two ending in no result.
– The sides have met eight times at SuperSport Park and the Titans lead the way with six wins, one loss and one tie against the Warriors.
– Titans’ top batsman: Farhaan Behardien – 230, @ 230, SR: 170.37, HS: 56*, 50s: 1, 100s: 0
– Titans’ top bowler: Tabraiz Shamsi – 12 wickets, @ 15.58, BBI: 3-22, Economy: 6.92
– Warriors’ top batsman: Christiaan Jonker – 276, @ 30.66, SR: 146.80 HS: 61, 50s: 2 100s: 0
– Warriors’ top bowlers: Andrew Birch – 9 wickets, @ 28.55, BBI: 2-27, Economy: 7.78
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images