Your essential guide to the One Day Cup final between the Titans and the Warriors at SuperSport Park on Friday.
The Titans will go in to this as favourites, but the way this tournament, and indeed the whole domestic season, has been swinging suggests it’s going to be a difficult one to predict. It’s been a massive collective effort from the Warriors, with five of their bowlers having taken 10 or more wickets so far. Their top four is a constant threat, with Smuts and Cloete in the top-four run-charts, while Colin Ingram and Colin Ackermann, who have yet to really fire in this tournament, can be class acts on their day.
With four wins in their last five, including a convincing victory over the Knights in the Qualifier on Monday, the Warriors might just fancy their chance of continuing the momentum and winning their first One Day Cup trophy since 2009. They do, however, come up against a team littered with Proteas. Should the Warriors manage to get past the likes of Henry Davids and Heino Kuhn, they then need to find a way of stemming the power of the Titans’ middle-order. AB de Villiers and Chris Morris have confirmed their availability for the match, and between them in the batting order sit Farhaan Behardien and Albie Morkel. Mark Boucher’s men will be confident of reclaiming the trophy that they lost to the Lions last season.
KEEP AN EYE ON
AB de Villiers:
De Villiers, who was earlier confirmed as the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper in the IPL in the absence of Virat Kohli, will join up with his franchise in India a few days late, due to his commitment to this match. After scoring a second-ball duck against the Cobras last week, he’ll be keen to sign off his brief domestic stint in South Africa on a high note, and contribute towards a winning cause.
‘It’s possibly a blessing in disguise for us that he did not score any runs in our last match, because we did not need him and we managed to win without him. He must be feeling that he did not contribute to the team, and he would want to contribute in the final, which is good news for us,’ said Boucher.
The leading run-scorer in the T20 Challenge, and now at the top of the charts in the One Day Cup. The Warriors built their team around the skipper, and he’s stepped up his game in the bowling department too. He’s been South Africa’s outstanding domestic performer in the shorter formats this season, and it would be a fitting end to the campaign if he could produce another all-round performance. With two four-wicket hauls, two fifties and two centuries this season, the Titans will do well to keep him out of the game.
Henry Davids is back in the squad after recovering from injury, which means one of Aiden Markram or Jonathan Vandiar might have to give way to accommodate him at the top. Both are in the runs, and it will be a difficult decision to make either way.
Titans: 1 Aiden Markram/Jonathan Vandiar, 2 Henry Davids, 3 Heino Kuhn, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Farhaan Behardien, 6 Albie Morkel, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Malusi Siboto, 9 Junior Dala, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Warriors: 1 JJ Smuts, 2 Gihahn Cloete, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Colin Ackermann, 5 Lesiba Ngoepe, 6 Yaseen Vallie, 7 Jerry Nqolo, 8 Kelly Smuts, 9 Andrew Birch, 10 Sisanda Magala, 11 Aya Gqamane
568 – JJ Smuts (Warriors)
559 – Henry Davids (Titans)
426 – Gihahn Cloete (Warriors)
347 – Aiden Markram (Titans)
347 – Albie Morkel (Titans)
344 – Colin Ingram (Warriors)
15 – Shaun von Berg (Titans)
14 – Junior Dala (Titans)
13 – JJ Smuts (Warriors)
11 – Andrew Birch (Warriors)
11 – Sisanda Magala (Warriors)
10 – Colin Ingram (Warriors)
‘It’s against our old rivals, whom we’ve had a few key games against in the last few months.
‘They’re pretty much a hardened team, they’re scrappers like you can’t believe, and they’ve done well to fight their way to the final.
‘Hopefully we can pull one over them again, we certainly wouldn’t be taking them lightly.
‘We understand they’re a good team and they’ll be up for an even bigger scrap, considering it will be the last game of the season.
‘We’re not too worried about the double, but more the prospect of winning another game. We’ve played some good cricket of late, and hopefully we can cap it off with another good game in front of a big crowd on Friday.
‘It’s an opportunity to round off a fantastic season for us and the guys will go all out to give their best, I have no doubt about that. Thankfully we’ve won a few trophies at the Titans, so the guys do know how to win.’
‘We’re not really looking for any credit or anything. The only thing we want to do, is do ourselves justice in terms of how we play our cricket. We try and simplify it as much as we can and give our best at all times. It’s worked for us this season.
‘I don’t think one is due to you because you lost so many times. It’s how hard you work and about getting reward for your efforts. Hopefully we will reap the rewards of our efforts in this game.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images