Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa has mixed feelings about the start his side has made to the Sunfoil Series season as they prepare to take on the Multiply Titans at Sahara Willowmoore Park in Benoni from Friday.
The men from the Eastern Cape, like the other five sides in the competition, have drawn both matches so far in 2017/18, meaning there is no outright leader in the competition thus far.
But Maketa’s men have enjoyed much better games than their two opposition to date – the bizhub Highveld Lions and WSB Cape Cobras – and the coach is hoping to build on that away to the much-fancied Titans.
“We’re pleased yes, but we’re also a bit disappointed that we haven’t been able to get over that line with at least one win,” he said. “In saying that, we have played good cricket so far in all eight days that we’ve had in the middle.
“So from that point of view, we’re really pleased with the way we’ve started the season.”
The Titans are traditionally one of the stronger franchises in South African cricket and Maketa is expecting them to pose the biggest challenge yet this season.
“They are a good team and we always look forward to playing against them,” he said. “The fact that we’re playing them away from home makes it even tougher, but an exciting challenge nonetheless. And we’re looking forward to it.”
The hosts are also a team that like to take the game to the opposition, which is something the Warriors are prepared for, especially after the start to the season where no team has won a game as yet.
Maketa added: “That’s how they like to play their cricket, they like to attack and it’s one of those games where you know you’re going to be tested.
“But for us, it’s about staying focussed and really making sure we’re spot on with our plans and execution, irrespective of what they do. It will be a good test for us.”
But Titans assistant coach Mandla Mashimbyi insisted that their approach to the game was the same as it was before they played the Hollywoodbets Dolphins and the Lions.
“We play every game to win,” he said. “That’s the mindset and it won’t change for this game. As you would have witnessed in the past two weeks, we’ve been in good positions, so going forward we want to make sure we capitalise on those positions.”
The hosts have Standard Bank Proteas star AB de Villiers available for the match, while Tabraiz Shamsi is back after his one-game stint for the visitors.
Having lost the spinner, the Warriors have another slow bowler now available after Simon Harmer returned from playing county cricket in England. He is one of two Kolpak players available, along with Colin Ackermann.
The Titans squad is: Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Corbin Bosch, Henry Davids, AB de Villiers, Tony de Zorzi, Eldred Hawken, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Alfred Mothoa, Migael Pretorius, Malusi Siboto, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jonathan Vandiar, Shaun von Berg.
The Warriors squad is: Jon-Jon Smuts (capt), Colin Ackermann, Tladi Bokako, Gihahn Cloete, Clyde Fortuin, Simon Harmer, Sisanda Magala, Eddie Moore, Lesiba Ngoepe, Anrich Nortje, Jerry Nqolo, Lutho Sipamla, Yaseen Vallie.