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|Tony de Zorzi||99||103||11||1||96.12|
With a scintillating win in their last match over Cape Cobras, the Titans finally managed to break into the top half of the points table. They are set to face the best performing team of the season in their next match, the Warriors, at St George's Park on 3rd March. Barring a game against Lions, which was washed out due to incessant rain, Warriors have won on all occasions in the competition so far. They currently stand at the top of the table with four 18 points in their kitty and another win here will place them just one step away from ascertaining a playoff spot. Both the sides are coming to Port Elizabeth with superb wins in their respective games and the upcoming game is expected to be a cracker of a game as well.
Warriors' prolonged stay at the top of the table has certainly surprised one and all especially considering the fact that they aren't really loaded with too many international players. However, the presence of so many players with plenty of experience in domestic cricket has worked wonders for them.
It was apparent in their last match as well, against Lions, where despite getting off to a rather poor start, their lower order managed to get them across 300-run mark which eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides. Batting first on a surface where there was hardly any purchase for the bowlers, Warriors' top-order batsmen threw their wickets away and soon found themselves tottering at 63 for 4 with more than 15 overs completed. The amalgamation of experience of Colin Ackermann and Sinethemba Qeshile's exuberance combined well to not only take them out of the pit but also to put them in a position to dictate terms.
Warriors lost their fifth wicket in the 40th over at the score of 223. Queshile continued to blast bowlers around as he finished with 121 not-out and Warriors scored 309 for 9 in their allotted fifty overs.
Thanks to a couple of shower spells, the match was cut short to 41 overs with Lions needing 284 runs to win. Although a tad expensive, the combination of Lutho Sipmala, Andrew Birch, and Jon-Jon Smuts picked up eight wickets between them. With a required run-rate of more than seven from the very beginning, the Lions' batsmen needed to come hard at the Warriors and even though they did and got remarkably close to Warriors' score, the Warriors held their nerves to finally emerge victorious by 7 runs (D/L method).
Matthew Breetzke, Gihahn Cloete, JJT Smuts, Lesiba Ngoepe, Marco Marais, Sinethemba Qeshile, Andrew Birch, SSB Magala, Lutho Sipamla, Colin Ackermann, Glenton Stuurman.
Titans bounced back into the contention after a spell of back to back defeats against Dolphins and Lions respectively. They are currently placed at the third spot in the points table and another win here will take them ahead of Dolphins, thanks to their superior net run-rate.
Batting first against Cape Cobras in their last match, Titans could have gotten off to a worse start than they did. They lost Jonathan Vandiar, de Zorzi, de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, and skipper Heinrich Klaasen within the first 13 overs at a cumulative score of just 31. While the Titans were staring at a sub-100 score, Aiden Markram and Farhaan Behardien had other ideas. The duo first showed exemplary resilience in seeing Rory Kleinveldt off and then launched a counter-attack only a few could have. Aiden Markram was dismissed for 169 in the final over of the innings as Titans finished with 320 runs on the board. Behardien scored 111 off 100 deliveries and stayed unbeaten.
With Titans' bowling attack consisting of the likes of Junior Dala and Chris Morris, it was never going to be easy for Cape Cobras to chase down such a tall total and hence it proved. Titans wrapped them up in the 41st over at a total score of 237. Surprisingly, Aiden Markram happened to be their star bowler and returned with the impressive figures of 24 for 2 in his five overs. Chris Morris and Junior Dala too played important roles in restricting Cape Cobras as they together conceded just 76 runs in 15.5 overs and picked up three wickets in the process.
Heino Kuhn, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Junior Dala, Gregory Mahlokwana, TL Moreki, Alfred Mothoa.
With both teams in fantastic form, its certainly going to be an exhilarating game of cricket. Titans did well in all departments of the game in their last game and even though their top-order was dealt with a rare failure, it won't be worrying them too much. The likes of Dean Elgar, Jonathan Vandiar, and Chris Morris have done exceedingly well for them so far and Markram's and Behardien's innings would have instilled a lot of confidence. They are a better-balanced side as compared to the Warriors and with experience available throughout their order, the Titans are better placed to come on top in the upcoming encounter.