Titans want to end in style
Johannesburg - The Titans will be looking to put the finishing touches to another wonderful domestic season when they face neighbours Lions in their final Supersport Series cricket match in Johannesburg, starting on Thursday.
Pierre Joubert's men virtually wrapped up the four-day title with a comprehensive win over the Eagles in Bloemfontein last weekend and they need only a handful of points from their final game to put paid to any theoretical chance the Eagles may have of overhauling them.
While the Eagles will be a little disappointed with their four-day campaign this season, a look at the domestic winners since the franchise system was introduced towards the end of the 2003-04 season leaves no doubt about which have been the most successful sides.
The Titans and the Eagles are streets ahead of the rest with 12 titles between them, spread across the three competitions. Interestingly, they have each captured each competition twice, albeit having shared the Supersport Series title with the Dolphins in the first two franchise seasons.
The Titans have already won the 45-overs MTN championship this season and are set to make it a double triumph this weekend with their third four-day crown.
The remaining teams will be playing for pride, although some players will also be wanting to send out messages with regard to future contracts, so there should still be an incentive to perform at this late stage of the season.
The Lions would love to upstage their northern rivals and possibly steal a march on the Warriors for third place, but the Eastern Cape franchise will be equally keen to do well against the Cape Cobras in East London.
The Warriors can't call on Ashwell Prince this weekend, while Robin Peterson has a knee injury and the Cobras could exploit that.
In the third match, the Dolphins look doomed for the wooden spoon when they take on the Diamond Eagles in Kimberley.
The fixtures and squads are:
Lions v Titans in Johannesburg:
Titans: Pierre Joubert (captain), Faf du Plessis, Blake Snijman, Heino Kuhn, Gulam Bodi, Basheer Walters, Jacques Rudolph, Imran Tahir, Ethy Mbhalati, Sean Nowak, Farhaan Behardien, Pieter Malan.
Lions: Neil McKenzie (capt), Andreas Agathagelou, Craig Alexander, Werner Coetsee, Stephen Cook, Friedel de Wet, Garnett Kruger, Andr Nel, Alviro Petersen, Aaron Phangiso, Jean Symes, Dane Vilas.
Warriors v Cape Cobras in East London:
Warriors: Davy Jacobs (capt), Craig Thyssen, Jon-Jon Smuts, Arno Jacobs, Zander de Bruyn, Justin Kreusch, Riaan Jeggels, Darryl Brown, Andrew Birch, Mario Olivier, Juan Theron, Corbyn Dolley
Cobras: Andrew Puttick, Alistair Gray, Stiaan Van Zyl, Justin Ontong, Henry Davids, Richard Levi, Ryan Canning, Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt, Claude Henderson, Francios Plaatjies, Martin Walters
Eagles v Dolphins in Kimberley:
Dolphins: Ahmed Amla (captain), Imraan Khan, David Miller, Cameron Delport, Jon Kent, Martin Bekker, Daryn Smit, Kyle Abbott, Vyash Gobind, Saidi Mlongo, Craig Woods , Nicholas Hewer.
Eagles: Boeta Dippenaar, (captain), Divan van Wyk, Ryan Bailey, Adrian Mclaren, Riley Rossouw, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Charl Pietersen, Reeza Hendricks, CJ de Villiers, Obus Pienaar, Aubrey Swanepoel, Thandi Tshabalala.
The standings after nine rounds are: Titans 112.10; Diamond Eagles 93.64; Warriors 75.74; Highveld Lions 71.34; Cape Cobras 66.02; Dolphins 52.88.