The Titans pace bowlers will be under the most pressure to step up after their messy performances against the Warriors, who chased down a record 354, and the Dolphins themselves, with the wayward seamers conceding 49 wides in those two games.
“The bowling was poor and unacceptable in the last two matches and we need to remove those extras from our game. The bowlers need to go back to what worked for us before, they’re able to pull things back.
“It was probably nerves, we maybe built up those games too much, trying to secure a home playoff. They didn’t try to do anything different and we always try to do the right things in training. Obviously we’ll try and improve the bowling and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” Walter told The Citizen on Monday.
If the bowlers can provide a measure of control in the field, then the Titans have a top-class batting line-up capable of either setting a winning score or chasing down a target. Theunis de Bruyn has been a stand-out player this season, David Wiese a hard-hitting contributor, Qaasim Adams a revelation in the middle-order and Jacques Rudolph, Dean Elgar and Henry Davids a reliable top-order. Plus Albie Morkel has made a couple of important contributions with the bat.
Walter said the Kingsmead pitch was a tough one to bat on during their weekend loss to the Dolphins and a total of 250 could well be enough, setting the stage for a nailbiting playoff.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld has become the key batsman for the Dolphins, reeling off successive centuries after also scoring a hundred earlier in the competition, while the opening pair of Morne van Wyk and Cameron Delport is amongst the most destructive in the competition.
The Dolphins middle-order has been less successful and the Titans know the importance of getting early wickets to put them under pressure.
Calvin Savage held together the lower-order and was then tidy with the ball during the weekend win over the Titans, but has not been named in the squad for the playoff, presumably due to injury. The return of the experienced Ryan McLaren or the skilful Robbie Frylinck could make up for that.
With Elgar doing a good job as the Titans’ main spinner, Walter said he was hopeful Morkel, who is struggling with a side strain, would be able to get through a couple of overs as well on a pitch that is expected to provide grip.
The Titans had a five-wicket win over the Dolphins at Kingsmead at the same stage of last season’s Momentum One-Day Cup. On that occasion they had a Heino Kuhn century to thank for their victory, while Graeme van Buuren, Shaun von Berg and CJ de Villiers – none of whom are in the squad for today’s game – had important roles as well.
“There’s good stuff from last season for us to reflect on. Maybe we made too much of the last two games, whereas in the middle phases of the tournament we just trusted our skills,” Walter said.
Dolphins: Morne van Wyk, Cameron Delport, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Cody Chetty, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Nipper, Andile Phehlukwayo, Ryan McLaren, Keshav Maharaj, Tumi Moreki, Daryn Dupavillon, Robbie Frylinck, Daryn Smit, Craig Alexander, Jonathan Vandiar.
Titans: Henry Davids, Jacques Rudolph, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Qaasim Adams, Albie Morkel, Mangaliso Mosehle, David Wiese, JP de Villiers, Rowan Richards, Junior Dala, Ethy Mbhalati, Grant Thomson.