Pienaar back to haunt Titans
Pretoria - The Titans won’t need reminding of what happened the last time they faced the Knights in the SuperSport Series on home turf.
It was their final game of last season and they needed to win it to have any chance of overhauling the Cape Cobras to win the four-day crown.
But they were frustrated by the unheralded 21-year-old Obus Pienaar who not only scored a double century but smashed their attack all over the place. It was the climax of a wonderful domestic season for the young all-rounder who played successive innings of 92 not out for the Free State amateur side against North West and then 119 for the Knights against the Dolphins and 212 and 67 against the Titans in the last two rounds of the SuperSport Series.
Since then he has played some explosive club cricket in Ireland and also had a successful tour ‘down under’ with the SA Emerging Squad during which he made a half-century and took five wickets in an innings in matches against the Australian Institute of Sport.
He has the talent to become a meaningful No 6 all-rounder in South African cricket and it will be interesting to see where the Knights bat him in Thursday’s opening round of the SuperSport Series at SuperSport Park.
The Knights are without the injured Rilee Rossouw but they have a very accomplished young opening pair in Dean Elgar and Reeza Hendricks plus the experienced trio of Boeta Dippenaar, Morne van Wyk and Ryan Bailey.
Elgar makes his return after missing South Africa A action during the off-season through injury while Hendricks had a phenomenal tour by any standards with the Emerging Squad, making 125 not out against India’s Emerging Squad, 222 not out against the Australian Institute of Sport and then 218 against New Zealand 'A' in three-day competition.
The Titans have the attack to take on these young guns in the form of Morne Morkel and Ethy Mbhalati. They are without Paul Harris, who has undergone minor surgery, but they will be determined to make a good start under new coach Matthew Maynard and returned captain Martin van Jaarsveld.
Van Jaarsveld and Jacques Rudolph head a powerful batting line-up that is also capable of putting a lot of runs on the board.
The weekend’s other match pits the Highveld Lions against the Dolphins at the Wanderers Stadium and once again quality cricket should be on the cards with the presence of several current Proteas in the form of Hashim Amla, Alviro Petersen and Imran Tahir.
There will also be a focus on the development of younger players in this match. Craig Alexander is a fast bowler to watch while there is no shortage of batting potential in the likes of David Miller, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Imraan Khan, Temba Bavuma and Jonathan Vandiar.