CSA T20 Challenge Final: Multiply Titans vs Warriors Preview

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After over a month of pulsating cricket action, it all comes down to what promises to be a cracking final between the Titans and the Warriors. 

We're down to the final match of what has been an exhilarating 2016 edition of the CSA T20 Challenge. It seems only fitting that the two best teams this season will slug it out in front of a packed SuperSport Park Centurion for the trophy on Saturday.

Can the Titans successfully defend their title or will the underdog Warriors be able to spring an upset at the home of the most decorated cricket franchise in South African history? Let's take a look:

Multiply Titans vs Warriors | Saturday 17 December | SuperSport Park Centurion | 17:00

To Win Match
Titans 62/100 | Tie 35/1 | Warriors 27/20

Multiply Titans
The Titans have been - as many expected them to be - the best side in the competition this season. Mark Boucher's men only lost two games this term on their way to finishing top of the standings with 33 points.

Much of their success this season has to be attributed to Farhaan Behardien. The little dynamo has been in sensational form with the bat this season, scoring 341 runs in just 10 innings. What's most striking about his numbers, however, is the rate at which he's been piling on the runs. Behardien has dispatched bowlers across the country with reckless abandon at an immense 192.65.

He's not only coming in lower down the order when the pressure is off either. In their final round-robin match of the season against the Warriors, the Titans needed the win in order to claim the home final in a rain-affected tie at Buffalo Park.

The match was shortened to just five overs per side. With Jonathan Vandiar and Heino Kuhn back in the pavilion and the Titans languishing at 2-7 after 1.1 overs, Behardien walked out to the middle and produced one of the most memorable innings in South African franchise cricket. He demolished Jon-Jon Smuts, Sisanda Magala and Kyle Abbott as he reached 55 off just 15 balls.

The Warriors would eventually fall six runs short of the Titan't total of 80, ensuring that the Highveld side claimed top spot on the log and the home final that comes with it. It hasn't all been about Behardien, though. Several Titans players have put their hands up this season, across the four day as well as the T20 format of the game.

Heino Kuhn and Heinrich Klaasen have been immense with the bat, bagging a combined 460 runs in the competition while Albie Morkel has been ever-reliable as his team's premier all-rounder. Jonathan Vandiar has also somewhat surprisingly played a major role at the top of the order for Boucher's side. The former Dolphins man has been solid at the top of the order and is laying the sort of platforms that Morkel and Behardien absolutely love to launch from.

While the Titans are definitely a batting team, their bowlers haven't been too bad either. Malusi Siboto and Junior Dala have picked up the bulk of the wickets while Morkel and fellow all-rounder David Wiese have kept the scoring rates down.

All in all, the Titans are a formidable unit and will be favourites heading into the final on their home wicket. Expect an absolute a avalanche of runs in very batsman-friendly conditions. This side will take some stopping.



Warriors
The Warriors came into this tournament with many pundits and fans expecting them to finish near the bottom of the table along with the bizhub Highveld Lions. As it happened though, the two teams many thought would finish bottom of the table ended up competing in the qualifier, which the Warriors ended up winning comfortably.

The Port Elizabeth franchise have been led magnificently by Jon-Jon Smuts this season. His figures with bat and ball are insane, with many calling for him to be included in South Africa's next T20 squad.

The big man has been simply breath-taking with the bat. 10 innings, 355 runs, an average of 44.37 and a strike rate of 143.72 tells a story, with his best performance of the season came against he Hollywoodbets Dolphins.

Having been set an enormous 217 for victory at Buffalo Park, Smuts played one of the best T20 innings in recent memory, blasting his way to an unbeaten 107 off just 58 balls as the Warriors sauntered home with an over to spare. It's also worth mentioning that his four overs only went for 23 runs - astounding when you consider the Dolphins plundered 216 in just 20 overs.

He has been well supported by the likes of Colin Ingram, Christiaan Jonker and Andrew Birch who have all be immense this season. Whether or not they'll be able to produce the goods at SuperSport Park Centurion remains unknown.

One thing is for sure though, Smuts will be central to the contest on Saturday evening. If he can get the Warriors innings off to a good start and put the Titans' bowlers under pressure, anything can happen.

It'll be interesting to see how well Kyle Abbott performs in the final. The South African seamer has long been considered one of the best T20 quicks in the world. If he can find the blockhole and make scoring difficult for the likes of Vandiar, Kuhn, Behardien, Morkel and Klaasen; the Warriors might just be in with a sniff.



Verdict: Multiply Titans 62/100
The Titans finished top of the standings for a reason - they're the best T20 team in the country at the moment. They have a better squad than the Warriors and they'll be playing at SuperSport Park Centurion, in conditions that suit their all out attack batting approach. Back them to succsefully defend their title come Saturday at 62/100.

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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