Underrated yet highly efficient, Auckland have been the team of the tournament so far. They thrashed KKR by seven wickets in their opening match, a degree of conviction which even the bigger sides have failed to demonstrate. Curiously, Auckland do not have a single big name in their midst, yet managed to outsmart KKR, and this after having to feature in two qualifying matches both of which they won. Their opponents for the game, Titans, too have a similar make-up. The fact that they managed to register a comprehensive win in their opening encounter against Perth would give them the desired confidence going into this clash.
Team Auckland analysis
The all-round brilliance of Azhar Mahmood was the chief reason why Auckland managed to upstage KKR in their encounter on Monday. Mahmood’s three-wicket spell, which included the big scalps of Brendon McCullum, Jacques Kallis and Manoj Tiwary, ensured that Auckland restricted KKR to a manageable total. With the bat as well, it was Mahmood’s unbeaten half-century that took them past the finishing line. How Auckland would hope that Mahmood has more such magical days.
Auckland would need to work a bit on their bowling department so that they don’t get heavily dependent on Mahmood. Kyle Mills and Andre Adams are two men who can do a job. As far as batting is concerned, they would be pleased that most of their batsmen got starts against KKR even though they couldn’t carry on.
Team Titans analysis
Unlike their team name, Titans aren’t a bunch of superstars. However, they did enough in their opening encounter to prove that they can be a force to reckon with in the tournament. Jacques Rudolph played a very good hand against the Scorchers. His 83 set up the innings nicely, and his century opening stand with Henry Davids laid an excellent foundation for a big score. If anything, they should be disappointed that they did not get much more than 163.
Not many complaints in the bowling department. Cornelius de Villiers was excellent with his figures of 3 for 16. He found some very good support Roelef van der Merwe as well. If the rest can chip in, Titans’chances of overpowering Auckland would be brightened.
Being the home side, Titans would believe they have a slight advantage, but Auckland will be keen to prove otherwise.
--By A Cricket Analyst