The Titans attack will be eager to make up for their shoddy performance in their last outing, when they failed to defend 301 in 42 overs against the Dolphins at SuperSport Park, but coach Rob Walter said their best bowler of last season will not necessarily be rushed back into action after an ankle injury.
“David is available again although he’s maybe not quite 100% match ready, but few cricketers would be after four weeks out with an injury. So it’s a process getting him back, but he’s obviously the sort of player you want around,” Walter told The Citizen yesterday.
Marchant de Lange will be the one bowler who will be reasonably satisfied with his performance against the Dolphins, his pace and accuracy proving a handful and threatening to drag the Titans back into the game, until he conceded 19 runs in the 40th over.
“When Marchant’s fit and firing he really is devastating and I don’t think that was a particularly poor over he delivered, his thinking was right. The batsmen are allowed to play good shots as well, but the big thing is his pace is up,” Walter said.
While the Titans batting was superb against the Dolphins, Theunis de Bruyn and Farhaan Behardien scoring centuries, they will be under pressure too against a Highveld Lions attack that visited all sorts of destruction upon them on their way to a 190-run victory in a four-day game three weeks ago at the Wanderers. The experienced Jacques Rudolph is also still out injured with stitches in his finger.
“We didn’t do very well against them in the four-day game, but then the last time we played them in the One-Day Cup we gave them a hiding. But they’re a really good team, very well balanced, and they’ve started with success, their tails are up and that makes them dangerous,” Walter said.
With all eyes on the World Cup towards the end of the summer, Behardien certainly made sure nobody forgets about him as he blazed 105 not out off just 67 balls.
“There was a smartness to the way he batted, he showed such great game intelligence, which was lovely to see. At the start of his innings, his focus was all on rotating the strike, and at the end, against two of the best death bowlers in the country [Kyle Abbott and Robbie Frylinck], he really asserted his dominance,” Walter said.
“And it was great to see the quality of cricket Theunis played, some of the shots he played, he’s certainly capable of big things.”
The Titans coach is adamant that his team have done all the preparation necessary to bounce back from their opening defeat.
“Obviously we were disappointed in our performance in the field against the Dolphins and it’s very hard when you know how hard the guys have worked and for so long. I think the desire to do well, to win the game for the batsmen, created more pressure, they have massive pride in their performance and that created more stress.
“But there’s certainly been no lack of preparation, maybe we were a bit game-rusty and we did some basics very poorly.”
The hunger is certainly there in the Titans squad for them to bounce back with victory at the Wanderers.
“Any loss really fires up the guys even more and there’s a burning desire to be successful. The hard yards have been put in and we’re in a position to do well,” Walter said.
Titans squad: Henry Davids, Heino Kuhn, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Farhaan Behardien, David Wiese, Mangaliso Mosehle, Roelof van der Merwe, Marchant de Lange, Rowan Richards, Ethy Mbhalati, Graeme van Buuren.