The two teams who have lost just one game in the Sunfoil Series this season – the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Sunfoil Dolphins – clash in a crunch match at the Wanderers from today, but one of the most important games of the tournament will also be played in Port Elizabeth, where the Chevrolet Warriors and the Unlimited Titans meet.
While the log-leading Lions will be desperate to reverse the trend of the other two domestic competitions in which they led at the halfway mark before fainting before the finish line to not even make the finals, the Titans and the Warriors, second and third, are probably the two most in-form teams in the country at the moment.
While the Titans won the Momentum One-Day Cup from a position they had no right to win from, the Warriors have won six of their last seven matches in both the 50-over and four-day competitions.
There will be no Albie Morkel for the Titans at St George’s Park, however, as the hero of the Momentum One-Day Cup final recovers from a side-strain, while Jacques Rudolph, contracted for the one-day competition, will play no further part in the domestic season.
It’s no major issue for the Titans because they will still field a powerful top-order of Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn and Theunis de Bruyn.
Mangaliso Mosehle will continue to don the wicketkeeper’s gloves despite his messy showing in the final and his poor form with the bat.
“We back Mangi to come good, he had a good start to the four-day competition,” coach Rob Walter told The Citizen yesterday.
The Titans also have plenty of bowling options, including David Wiese and Junior Dala, two players who did so much to ensure the Momentum One-Day Cup is now housed at SuperSport Park.
The final selection is going to be a tough choice for Walter, with wrist-spinners Shaun von Berg and Tabraiz Shamsi, left-arm seamer Rowan Richards, Dala and Ethy Mbhalati all competing for three spots.
Walter said the triumph in the Newlands final had now been put aside and the Titans are hungry for a second trophy.
“We’re certainly not resting on our laurels, although we’ll use that momentum from the One-Day Cup, and we’re very driven to shoot for that second trophy,” the coach said.
The injured trio of pacemen Aya Gqamane and Rusty Theron, as well as senior batsman Davy Jacobs, are not available for the Warriors, but the recent form of Colin Ingram and Michael Price with the bat bodes well for the home side, while Andrew Birch and Simon Harmer will be the key performers with the ball.
The other match sees the Chevrolet Knights hosting the Nashua Cape Cobras, the defending champions, at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley in a match-up between the two bottom sides on the log.
The Cobras are still trying to get over the manner in which they lost the Momentum One-Day Cup final to the Titans, and the four-prong Knights pace attack of Quinton Friend, Corne Dry, Malusi Siboto and Dillon du Preez is sure to increase the pressure on them.