A moment of madness or half an hour of complacency could deny the Nashua Titans a place in the knock-out stages of the Momentum One Day Cup, especially if their bowling attack allows the belligerent Richard Levi to get into his stride at Boland Park in Paarl on Wednesday.
A brief glance at the scorecard in a recent match at this picturesque ground would reveal that Levi and Andrew Puttick just needed 10.5 overs of ferocious hitting to propel the hosts to a 10-wicket win against the Chevrolet Knights.
And the Titans cannot afford any errors. The visitors have 21 points after nine matches. If the hosts win, and the Knights and the Dolphins coast to victory against the Lions and the Warriors, the Titans’ campaign will end with a whisker and they will be knocked out of the Momentum One Day Cup campaign.
“One of the things that’s true about the Titans is that if we have a clear picture what we need to do to win a competition, we perform at the best of our ability,” said Matthew Maynard, the Titans coach.
Justin Ontong, the Cobra-captain, still believes that the hosts are capable of replacing the log leaders, the bizhub Highveld Lions, at the summit of the table if the Lions slip against the Knights in Kimberley and the Cobras win against the Titans, with a bonus point.
One of the key players of the Cobras in the bonus-point win against the Knights in Paarl, Justin Kemp, is battling with a hamstring niggle and management hopes he will be fit for the Titans-clash.
“One of the keys for our improved performances is that our top- and middle-order have improved in establishing significant partnerships. Richard, Dane Villas and Stiaan van Zyl have been some of our stand-out performers.
“Our bowling attack has also increased out strike-rate in the first power play, especially since we entrusted the new ball to our experienced duo of Johann Louw and Charl Langeveldt,” said Ontong.
The Titans have excelled as a batting unit in the Momentum One Day Cup, but their bowling attack have been exposed occasionally.
A minor injury crisis have contributed to their woes, as Paul Harris (broken finger) and Ethy Mbahlati (grade 2 hamstring-tear) have been ruled out for the second half of the Momentum One Day Cup campaign.
“JP de Villiers did well for us in his first and last game. Eden Links performed admirably against the Dolphins.
“Roelof van der Merwe is also back to his very best. He has the attitude to succeed at the highest level,” said Maynard.
The performance by the Nashua Titans-spinners and the state of the pitch might decide the outcome of the game on Wednesday.
But Ontong is clear that if the Cobras want to replace the Lions as the number-1 team on the log, they will have to use the first power play to rattle the strong Titans top-order.
The Titans would like to do something similar by removing the dangerous Levi, Puttick and the stylish left-hander Stiaan van Zyl.
Albie Morkel’s bowling in the latter part of the campaign has been encouraging. Yet, the economy of one or two members of the support cast has been worse than that of Greece or Spain.
If the Titans can improve their fast bowling performances, they will have a fighting chance of beating the hosts.
If not, spectators should be encouraged to wear hard hats in anticipation of a Levi-inspired onslaught.
The match starts at 15h00 on Wednesday.
Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras: Justin Ontong (capt), Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Stiaan van Zyl, Mohammad Vallie, Justin Kemp, Dane Villas, Alastair Gray, Johann Louw, Lizaad Williams, Charl Langeveldt.
Nashua Titans: Martin van Jaarsveld (capt), Heino Kuhn, Henry Davids, Mangaliso Mosehle, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Eden Links, JP de Villiers, Rowan Richards, Shaun von Berg, CJ de Villiers.