Whatever the merits of the Dolphins being in the Ram Slam final, the Titans justifiably regard them as a clear and present danger.
It is now a cliche that anything can happen in T20 cricket, and the Dolphins, who earned 10 points from wash-out matches and won just three, bring some big guns to Centurion on Saturday, boosted by the return of Vaughn van Jaarsveld after injury.
They are on a roll, too, having won their last two games, including an 89-run win over the Titans. Despite claims that it was a ‘weakened’ Titans side, which had already secured a home semi-final, it still contained the likes of Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, David Wiese and Morne Morkel.
But this is a whole new ballgame, and the Titans will be wheeling out an impressive arsenal, spearheaded by the iconic AB de Villiers and backed by Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris and Klaasen. They have such depth that the omission of Dale Steyn, who is working on his Test fitness, is irrelevant.
In fact, the Dolphins have much more to fear from left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who is in devastating form. He leads the wicket-takers list with 16 from nine innings, and he showed his game-changing powers when he destroyed the Warriors batting in two overs when they briefly threatened in the semi-final.
That semi-final was a good match for the Titans, for having been unstoppable in the first six matches, they went off the boil, losing to the Cobras and the Dolphins. And when Colin Ingram and Colin Ackermann were going at 10 an over, taking the Warriors to 80-2 in the ninth over, it served as a reminder that T20s are never easy.
Titans captain Albie Morkel has promised to regard this as ‘just another game’ as they stick to their tried and trusted formula.
‘The danger is doing things differently in the big games, but we have to treat it as a normal match,’ he said. ‘Our mindset, the whole competition, has been to try and take wickets at regular intervals, so we have to be aggressive. ‘You can’t have everyone on the boundary, even for the spinners. If the opposition gets away from you for a couple of overs, you can’t then get soft and start defending.’
Therein lies the danger. If the Dolphins get settled, work the ball around and are in a position to launch a late assault, the pressure will be on the Titans. And anything can happen in a T20.
The match starts at 6pm.
Titans squad: Albie Morkel (c), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Malusi Siboto, Shaun von Berg.
Dolphins squad: Sarel Erwee, Morne Van Wyk, Khaya Zondo (c), Sibonelo Makhanya, Andile Phehlukwayo, Rob Frylinck, Keshav Maharaj, Prenelan Subrayen, Athi Maposa, Imran Tahir, Mthokozisi Shezi, Dane Vilas, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix