Smarting Titans focus on Lions
Martin van Jaarsveld is still fighting some inner demons after a devastating semifinal loss in a last-ball thriller against the Sydney Sixers in the recent Karbonn Smart Champions League T20 semifinal.
Yet his inner turmoil won’t be a distraction before the Momentum One-Day Cup opener between the Nashua Titans and their neighbours, the bizhub Highveld Lions, at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
Van Jaarsveld, the Titans captain, admitted he was still devastated by the last-ball loss to Sydney in the semifinals.
“It would have been easier had they won in the sixteenth over, but because it happened off the last ball of the twentieth over, you wonder if we might have done a few things differently,” Van Jaarsveld said on Thursday.
Yet, he is very clear about the task at hand against the Lions on Friday.
“The Lions offer left-right combinations right through their batting order, and our discipline and bowling lines will have to be top notch to negotiate the challenge,” he says.
Van Jaarsveld lamented the lack of discipline in the 2011-12 season when the Titans finished fifth in the domestic one-day competition.
“Any team that concedes more than 150 runs through wides and no-balls like we did, would struggle,” he added.
But he is philosophical about their campaign, adding that the Titans blooded a number of young players during last season.
Matthew Maynard, the Titans coach, is clearly still irritated about the way the champions imploded in the Franchise 1-Day Cup, and wants to erase the bad one-day memories of 2011.
“We started well and recorded bonus-point victories, but faded and finished fifth,” he says.
“What we need this season is consistency.”
The Titans will be without Alfonso Thomas (only contracted for Twenty20-matches) and Albie Morkel (received cortisone injections for an ankle injury and will be out of action for the first two matches of the Momentum 1-Day Cup campaign).
Two of their premier batsmen in Jacques Rudolph and Faf du Plessis (on tour with South Africa) and the impressive Morné Morkel (also with the Proteas ‘down under’) are also not available for domestic duty.
Heino Kuhn will probably be promoted to open the batting with Henry Davids.
Mangaliso Mosehle might slot in at No 3.
The experienced Van Jaarsveld will fulfill a vital cog as rotator of the strike and accumulator in order to ‘unleash’ his middle-order strike-force in Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese at the moment critique.
Behardien regularly bench presses above his weight.
Wiese hit six fours and four sixes during his remarkable, undefeated 61 off only 28 deliveries against the eventual champions, the Sydney Sixers, in the second semifinal of the Champions League.
The Lions is a team brimful of confidence.
Their in-form top-order recently subdued the bowling attacks of the previous two winners of the Champions League tournament, the Chennai Super Kings (2010) and the Mumbai Indians (2011).
The hosts’ main batting target will be Neil McKenzie, who epitomized all-round class in the Champions League tournament.
His performances against arguably India’s finest spinners in Harbhajan Singh, Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha must be disconcerting for the Titans spinners.
If the hosts hope to conquer the Lions, they will have to make early inroads by removing the in-form Gulam Bodi, the dangerous and dazzling 19-year old Quinton de Kock and the impressive Jean Symes.
Symes proved an invaluable ally to McKenzie and averaged 46.66 in the Champions League event.
Geoffrey Toyana, the Lions coach, says a key to success in the Momentum One-Day Cup would be to embrace the changes to the format effectively.
“We are only allowed four fielders on the boundary ropes, instead of five, and we have to use the power plays effectively,” he said.
He is referring to the initial power plays in the first ten overs, as well as the batting power play between the sixteenth and the 40th overs.
Toyana is excited about the quality of his bowling attack.
The left-arm spinner, Aaron Phangiso, captured ten wickets during an impressive Champions League tournament and accounted for the little master, Sachin Tendulkar.
“He has been our banker for the past three seasons,” says Toyana.
“Chris Morris was impressive in the Champions League. I have told him if he stays fit, he can be the leader of our attack.
“We have at least two fast bowlers in Chris and Hardus Viljoen who can regularly produce deliveries at 140 kilometres per hour. Ethan O’ Reilly also impressed last season with his late swing.”
Van Jaarsveld demands a more pragmatic approach from the top-order.
“Our top-order may have erred last season by batting too aggressively in attempting a strike-rate of 100 percent,” he added.
Rowan Richards and Paul Harris, one of the forgotten men of South African cricket, might be given a run at SuperSport Park.
The match starts at 15h00 on Friday.
The final of the Momentum One-Day Cup will be on the 14th December.
NASHUA TITANS: Martin van Jaarsveld (capt), Henry Davids, Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Farhaan Behardien, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, CJ de Villiers, Rowan Richards, Ethy Mbhalati, Paul Harris, Eden Links.
BIZHUB HIGHVELD LIONS: Stephen Cook (capt), Gulam Bodi, Grant Mokoena, Temba Bavuma, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Jean Symes, Quinton de Kock, Aaron Phangiso, Chris Morris, Hardus Viljoen, Ethan O’ Reilly, Pumelela Matshikwe,