Cape Town - Titans coach Mark Boucher admits that losing the in-form
Aiden Markram for their crunch One-Day Cup game against the Cape Cobras is a loss - but one that pleases him - ahead of the
clash in Centurion on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old banged down the door of the national
selectors in the three matches he played in recent weeks, scoring two centuries
and an outrageous 43-ball 85 in the previous win over the Warriors that shot
his side to the top of the table.
It has seen Markram, who has both a competition average and
strike rate of 131, recalled to the Proteas squad for the
remainder of their ongoing series against Sri Lanka.
And it has left Boucher with a huge void to fill at
"I expected to lose him to be honest," the Titans coach
said. "Having watched him over the last few games, he's been great.
"I think he's just proved to everyone that he's one step
ahead of the rest. He's in his rightful place now and we'll have to fill the
"Losing players to South Africa is what pleases us, so good
luck to him."
After a slow start to the competition, the Titans have
slowly begun to find their form and they are now ahead of the pack in the race
for the play-offs. They lead the standings with 18 points from six games, the
same number of points as the Warriors but with a game in hand.
"There's quite a few sides in the mix now and it's getting
congested at the top," Boucher explained. "Thankfully we have a game in hand,
so that gives us one game of breathing space.
"Our intention from the start was to try and end up at the
top and we're in a good position at the moment, so hopefully we can now go on
and cement that position.
"We have played some good cricket, but we've been really bad
in certain areas as well.
"I think we've had to rely on a lot of individual
performances to pull us through games, which is something that we've spoken
about and we need to see some more combined team efforts. If we can do that,
then we can really start dominating."
As for the Cobras, Boucher says that they were one of a
number of sides that has impressed him in the 2018/19 campaign.
"There's been a
lot of very good teams around this year," he added. "To single out one is
always difficult. It shows what a tight competition we have and if you don't
rock up on the day, any team can beat you."
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince, meanwhile, has also seen his
side pick up following a slow start to the campaign.
The Cape won two critical games on the road over the past
week, a sensational last over triumph over the Highveld Lions, and an
excellent victory over the Dolphins.
In fact, they have won all three matches on the road thus
far and another on the highveld will put them top of the table.
Prince is looking forward to the game. "A win tomorrow night
will put us top of the table, so that's obviously a bit more incentive for us,"
he said. "Even though we have played a few more matches than some of the
others, it's still an opportunity.
"Points on the board are always important, so we look
forward to it. It's an important game for us."
As for their recent form, Prince believes that peaking at
the right time is a challenge all teams will be looking to overcome.
about finding momentum at the right time and it's pleasing the signs we have
shown in the past few games," he concluded. "You also don't want to peak too
early, you want to have something left in the tank for the latter stages.
"If we can end well, then we'll be in a good space heading
into the play-offs."
The Titans squad is:
Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala,
Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Heino
Kuhn, Gregory Mahlokwana, Imraan Manack, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Tshepo Moreki, Chris
Morris, Alfred Mothoa, Jonathan Vandiar
The Cobras squad is:
Akhona Mnyaka, Aviwe Mgijima, Dane Paterson, Dane
Piedt, George Linde, Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Pieter
Malan, Rory Kleinveldt, Tladi Bokako, Vernon Philander, Zubayr Hamza