Champions League T20
Titans wary of Auckland
Roelof van der Merwe (Gallo Images)
Durban - Titans all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe believes Wednesday’s Champions League Twenty20 opponents Auckland Aces would pose a strong challenge when the two meet in their Group A clash here at Kingsmead.
The New Zealanders showed early form in the Champions League's initial qualifying tournament where they claimed successive wins to seal a place in the main group stage.
They started the group stage with a seven-wicket demolition of Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday.
"They’re a classic example of a not very pretty side," said Van der Merwe on Tuesday.
"They don’t play pretty cricket, but it’s very effective.
"That’s a good way to play your cricket and I think in a way we also play the same way and it’s going to be a good match up."
The 27-year-old also felt that the Aces, New Zealand’s HRV Cup champions, could be in trouble if their top-order, which included wily T20 trio Martin Guptill, Lou Vincent and Azhar Mahmood, failed.
"In Twenty20 cricket anyone can play well on any given day," he said.
"If we take some wickets up front, I think they are a side that can get into trouble very quickly with their batting order.
"So it’s going to be crucial for us to take wickets up front."
The Titans began the tournament with a one-sided win after trouncing Australia’s Big Bash League runners-up Perth Scorchers by 39 runs on Saturday.
Key to that win were the performances of openers Jacques Rudolph and Henry Davids with the bat, as well as seamer CJ de Villiers with the ball.
De Villiers claimed three for 16 and was named man-of-the-match for his showing. Van der Merwe hoped it would give the youngster confidence for the remainder of the tournament.
"He’s definitely a strike option and on that day he was unbelievable,” he said.
"It was great for him to get those wickets in our first game and he’ll hopefully build on that now."
Van der Merwe said the opening few days of the competition had suggested it could be a very open one this year, unlike the last two editions that were dominated by IPL sides.
"This year’s tournament is a lot more even than before, so it’s going to be tough getting through to the playoffs.
"We had a good start and we now just need to capture some momentum and carry on building."
South Africa’s T20 winners have a good record in Durban, where they have not lost for over five years.
Their last defeat dates back to the preliminary stages of the 2007/08 domestic season.
"The Titans like this venue a lot," Van der Merwe added.
"We enjoy playing in Durban [and] there’s always a good crowd here as well.
"Hopefully we’ll get another win."