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Ken Borland

Titans wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for CLT20 semifinal

Posted on October 27, 2012 by Ken

THERE was a chance of playing lesser opposition elsewhere, but Titans coach Matthew Maynard said his team would not want their Champions League Twenty20 semifinal to be anywhere other than SuperSport Park on Friday, even if it was against the tournament favourites, the Sydney Sixers.

Maynard is banking on a full house to get behind his men and lift their performance against what he warned would be formidable opposition.

“Home-ground advantage is one thing, but if there’s a big crowd in then it will also be a massive boost for the team, like having a 12th or 13th man.

“They love playing in front of their fans at SuperSport Park and I hope there are 10,000 people here on Friday night in as much blue as possible.

“If it’s only half-full, then playing at home won’t be an advantage because there won’t be enough people to create that atmosphere,” Maynard said.

“But Sydney are one of the favourites to win the competition, we all know they are a very strong outfit and their bowlers are particularly suited to these conditions,” he said.

Star batsman AB de Villiers is not going to be playing for the Titans, despite hopes that his troublesome back had settled down enough for him to appear for the first time in the tournament, while brilliant all-rounder Shane Watson is not in the Sydney team because he is being rested by Cricket Australia ahead of the crunch Test series against South Africa.

Watson’s absence does rob the Sixers of a key bowler, but they can nevertheless field a top-class pace attack boasting Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, all of whom have played for Australia.

Watson’s departure has also left a big hole at the top of the batting order and Sydney do not have a particularly explosive line-up anymore, something that will please the Titans bowlers after they received a mauling at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their last outing. But as Maynard points out, that match against KKR was a dead rubber and the Indian Premier League team played with a freedom that would have been outrageous in a knockout game.

“The Knight Riders really went hard after our bowlers, they hit them off their lengths, but it was high risk, high reward cricket. They had nothing to lose and they could easily have been 60 for six instead. You can’t go on batting like that throughout a tournament, especially in a semifinal that has a lot riding on it,” Maynard said.

Apart from that last game, the Titans bowlers have played a big part in their qualification for the semifinals, and Maynard issued a warning to Sydney that the home bowlers would also be well suited to conditions at SuperSport Park.

“The bowling unit has been superb and it was just unfortunate that our two bankers (Ethy Mbhalati and Alfonso Thomas) went for big runs against KKR. But I’m more than happy with our bowling, they’ve been superb throughout the tournament and conditions will suit them as well,” Maynard said.

The Welshman said that even though he expected a good cricket wicket at SuperSport Park, the ability to build an innings would be crucial in the semifinal. “Slogging does not play a massive part in T20, full stop. Maybe at the end of the innings, but generally, good cricket shots are the ones that pay off. There’s an important role for a batsman with a strike rate of around 115 and then the others around him can score at 130+.”

Jacques Rudolph has already proven that, with Henry Davids and Farhaan Behardien providing the acceleration around him. The Titans will be hoping captain Martin van Jaarsveld and Protea prospect Heino Kuhn will also have their say now that the tournament has reached the crucial knockout stage.

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