The Titans are propping up the bottom of the log after losing their opening two matches against the Dolphins and Highveld Lions, and then suffering the embarrassment of getting zero points from their game against the Knights in Benoni because of a sub-standard, dangerous pitch. It means they are yet to get on the scoreboard as far as the log goes, and are already 10 points behind the second and third-placed Dolphins and Highveld Lions.
The Cobras are the runaway leaders of the competition at present, having won all four of their matches.
“We’re obviously in a much worse position because of what happened at Willowmoore Park and our backs are against the wall. We probably require six wins in our last seven games to make the semi-final, but that’s not unfamiliar territory for us. We’ll do whatever we can to fight our way back into it, much like we did last season,” Walter told The Citizen yesterday.
“The players certainly don’t believe they’re dead and buried, you can see their hunger and we know that if we play to the best of our ability, then we can beat anyone.”
It would nevertheless be silly not to consider the Titans as underdogs, even on their home turf, against a Cobras side that is rapidly establishing itself as the most dominant franchise across the board in South African cricket.
Walter said the Titans see the Cobras as the team to beat.
“They’re obviously the form side, a high-quality team, and they’re nine points ahead of everyone else for a reason. To get three bonus-point wins out of four games shows they’re playing seriously good cricket,” he said.
But if the Titans can find that elusive performance where both the batting and bowling click in the same game (and the fielding has to improve as well), then it will be possible for them to beat the Cobras.
The key factor for the home side will be whether they can contain the powerhourse Cobras batting line-up: opener Andrew Puttick is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 339 at an average of 113, with a century and three fifties in his four innings; Stiaan van Zyl and Justin Ontong are both averaging over 50 and Sybrand Engelbrecht and Dane Vilas showed their form in the lower middle-order with their stand of 137 off 14 overs in the previous match against the Knights.
The best way to contain will be to take regular wickets, especially up front, and that makes strike bowler Marchant de Lange the key man.
“In this format, early wickets are crucial because if there’s a set batsman in at the end, then they tend to run away with things. And the Cobras bat all the way down, guys like Robin Peterson and Rory Kleinveldt have only faced 13 balls between them in their four matches, so they bat deep.
“But if we can put it all together, batting and bowling in the same game, and if we can learn to win games if you haven’t necessarily bossed from the start, then we can deliver,” Walter said.