Pretoria - Titans captain Henry Davids has billed Friday's One-Day Cup opener against the Cape Cobras as the ultimate "North v South" battle in Centurion.
Davids, a former Cobra player, believed there were few domestic derbies within franchise cricket as intense as the battle between these two rivals, providing the perfect stage for the local season kick-off.
"I've been in both camps, and I know the Cobras guys very well," Davids said on Thursday.
"I know they will be really pumped coming up here to our base, while my guys cannot wait to get stuck in.
"It's one of the biggest games of the season as they are joint defending champions, so it will be a big challenge." Unlike the Cobras, who have just come out of an extended wet winter in Cape Town, the Titans have played some high intensity cricket already.
The Light Blues only recently returned from India where they participated in the Champions League T20.
Davids, in particular, was in sublime form, heading the run-scoring charts for the majority of the tournament before his team exited prior to the semi-finals.
"The Champions League T20 was a great experience for all the guys, especially playing before those big crowds.
"It was a real eye-opener for younger guys and hopefully that will stand us in good stead as the season progresses. We would like to have gone further, at least qualify for the semi-finals, but that has just made us hungrier to do well in our domestic competitions here at home.
"Personally, I'm hitting the ball as well I have ever had and hopefully I can have a good run with the bat to ensure my team does well."
Davids would form part of a power-packed opening partnership with Proteas discard Jacques Rudolph, while Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese would provide the fireworks lower down.
His Cobras counterpart Justin Ontong acknowledged the Titans had a head-start in terms of actual match time, but was encouraged by his team's pre-season preparations.
"We came up here to the Titans last month, and got one over them early on in the eKasi Challenge in Mamelodi," Ontong said.
"We also had a good trip to Namibia recently where we got some time out in the sun.
"The key is whether we can lift our intensity early on, because that is where we need to match the Titans.
"They play a very aggressive brand of cricket and they can be very dangerous when they get on a roll."
Ontong had a fairly settled line-up, with the exception of the injured opener Richard Levi, who was instrumental in the Cobras run towards the final last season.
Wicket-keeper batsman Dane Vilas had been promoted to open the batting with veteran Andrew Puttick in Levi's absence, while there was also likely to be a One-Day Cup debut for left-arm spinner Siya Simetu.
"Losing Richie is a big blow for us, but we've got great confidence in Dane being able to provide momentum in the powerplay overs," Ontong said "He had a good T20 series last year and we hope he can bring that into form into the One-Day Cup.
"Siya will come into the side after a good pre-season and we don't want to put too much pressure on him, and just let him settle into his work." Friday's match is a day/night fixture starting at 15:00.
On Saturday, the Knights play the Warriors in Kimberley and on Sunday, the Lions take on the Dolphins in Potchefstroom -- both matches start at 10:00.