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Knights welcome Champs to Kimberley as Steyn returns

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VKB Knights coach Nicky Boje and his Multiply Titans counterpart, Mark Boucher, are both content with the starts their sides have made to the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge competition but know they face a tough battle when they clash in round two at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday.

Both were eight-wicket winners when the tournament began over the weekend, with the hosts winning away at the Warriors in Port Elizabeth thanks to half-centuries from captain Theunis de Bruyn and David Miller. The visitors thumped the bizhub Highveld Lions in the second match of a double header in Centurion where their skipper, Albie Morkel, and AB de Villiers were the stars.

"I'm pleased with the way the first outing went, the way the guys bowled and fielded," Boje said. "And the two experienced players there with the bat came through well to take us to the win, so all in all, it was a satisfying way to start."

The four mentioned names are all international quality players and with all the Standard Bank Proteas available for the competition this season, Boje knows they face a tough task in the Northern Cape.

"The Titans are a quality side with quality throughout their squad," he added. "They have plenty of big names, but it's not about that at the end of the day. It's how you play in the match that counts. We'll be going out there trying to make sure we do our basics right in a competition that is looking great with all the internationals playing."

Boucher, meanwhile, will have been satisfied to have started the white-ball part of the season with a victory.

The defending champions were the only side amongst the three opening round winners to have triumphed with a bonus point, but their demanding coach wants more.

“It was good to start with a win, but I still thought we were a little bit rusty,” he said. “I don’t think we bowled particularly well and I don’t think we fielded particularly well. Obviously we have a strong batting line-up and I think it made the game look a lot easier than it actually was. So there's a lot of areas I feel we can improve on going into Wednesday.”

Nine of the 11 players that turned out for the Titans on Sunday have international experience and Boucher is pleased that so many Proteas are part of the competition this year.

"I think the Proteas playing is going to raise the standard of cricket because it's going to give a lot of the domestic players an opportunity they rarely have, which is to test themselves and sort of judge themselves as to how good they really are when they are up against a Protea bowler or batter,” he concluded.

The two-time defending champs are further bolstered by the return of Dale Steyn on Wednesday.

The Knights squad is: Marchant de Lange, Andries Gous, Eddie Leie, Theunis de Bruyn (capt), Patrick Kruger, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Grant Mokoena, Tshepo Ntuli, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Aubrey Swanepoel, Shadley van Schalkwyk.

The Titans squad is: Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Albie Morkel (capt), Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Malusi Siboto, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.