Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher is hoping to follow the template of last season by carrying the momentum of their Sunfoil Series campaign into the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge, which they launch against the bizhub Highveld Lions in Centurion on Sunday.
The Pretoria-based side won the title in 2016/17 and it came on the back of a strong end to the first part of the four-day season when they won two out of their last three games.
This year they broke the overall Sunfoil Series draw sequence by winning the only match to date in their final game, to lead the standings in the process, and Boucher wants to capitalise on that win.
“We took some of the momentum from our Sunfoil Series into the T20 competition last year and went on to win it,” Boucher recalls. “We can always look back at that and take a lot of positives out of it. Hopefully things will follow a similar path this time.”
The Jukskei derby at SuperSport Park is the second of a double header, which will be preceded by the WSB Cape Cobras taking on the Hollywoodbets Dolphins earlier.
There are added incentives for fans to turn out in numbers. This year the new sponsors have posted a R2-million prize pool for those who can make a clean one-handed catch in a televised game. It is part of the popular Catch a Million competition.
Another big drawcard will be the involvement of Standard Bank Proteas players, who are available for the entire tournament.
“It’s great that they are playing and it will really enhance the competition,” Boucher, whose side also won the 2015/16 title, said. “But T20 is always going to be tight because of the fact that one or two players can win you games.
“So we just have to cover all the bases and hopefully a couple of games go our way early on. That will help us to try and get into a position to challenge for the finals. If we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance to continue winning trophies.”
Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana is expecting a tough first match for his side, who were on the receiving end of that rare Titans win in the opening half of the Sunfoil Series.
“It’s been a fairly good season so far despite that loss,” he said. “We now play the Titans again first up in the T20 competition. It’s a derby, at their home ground with all those big players in the mix, so it will be a tough one.”
The Lions squad is: Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Mangaliso Mosehle, Dwaine Pretorius, Nicholas van der Berg, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Marques Ackerman, Omphile Ramela, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Aaron Phangiso (capt), Hardus Viljoen, Ryan Rickleton, Wihan Lubbe, Carmi le Roux, Janneman Malan.
Titans squad to be named tomorrow