Lions too good for Titans
Titans: 148/7 (Behardien 36, Davids 36, Wiese 28*, Sohail Tanvir 2/21, Phangiso 2/24)
Lions: 150/3 (De Kock 47, Pretorius 42, McKenzie 32*, Mbhalati 3/31)
Lions won by seven wickets
Contrasting 40’s by Quinton de Kock and Dwaine Pretorius were the backbone of the Lions’ Ram Slam T20 challenge win over the Titans.
The Lions made heavy weather of a moderate chase but, having won the toss and chosen to field, it was of their own doing.
Their bowlers had done well on an untypical two-paced wicket. There was sedate start by T20 standards when Quinton de Kock and Gulam Bodi set about their 38-run opening partnership in 34 balls.
As per the custom, Bodi was the quiet partner and was the first to vanish, chopping a wide Ethy Mbhalati delivery onto his stumps.
The Titans’ fielding bordered on atrocious, with two dropped catches in Eden Links’ first over. Mangaliso Mosehle compounded their problems, fumbling a stumping chance off Links with Neil McKenzie stranded. Jacques Rudolph was the biggest culprit, grassing two catches.
De Kock, who blitzkrieged his way to a wonderful 100 against the Cape Cobras on Sunday, could have been excused for looking of boundaries instead of singles, but the situation demanded constant strike rotation.
When a pressure-relieving over was needed, he provided it via a 19-run hammering of Roelof van der Merwe in the 11th over. With a 50 in sight, he became Mbhalati’s second victim when his wayward hoick found nothing but air, with Mbhalati finding the stumps.
With wickets in hand and Neil McKenzie again playing an understated but important hand, the Lions were always going to be in the pound seats and the late aggression was supplied by Dwaine Pretorius, who dominated the 62-run partnership, which spanned only 33 balls.
He basically sealed the game when he tucked into Marchant de Lange in the 18th over, taking 16 runs and narrowing the equation to 10 runs needed off the penultimate over. He perished to a spectacular catch by Rudolph but the 20-ball innings had taken the game away.
The Titans, with their powerful top-order and ballistic all-rounders, never seemed to get going against the Lions attack. Expertly led by Sohail Tanvir, they kept the leash on the Titans except in the second over, when Jacques Rudolph took to Chris Morris.
The ditched Proteas’ test opener hammered the Chennai Super Kings’ recruit to the tune of three boundaries in four balls. Rudolph may have his issues outside offstump, but he makes batting look ridiculously easy.
He chanced his arm once too often in Morris’ over and it took a good running catch from serial suspect fielder Imran Tahir to get rid of him.
Whatever momentum the Titans garnered from that early salvo, it was relinquished. Mangaliso Mosehle lasted only two balls as Tanvir trapped him leg-before, leaving the Titans tottering at 16/2 in the third over.
Seniors Henry Davids and Martin van Jaarsveld had the hopes of a decent total on their shoulders and their 33-run stand took them somewhere towards that.
It contained some sparkling strokes, none more so than David’s front foot hook off Hardus Viljoen that sailed high over midwicket for six. The association, which should have been at least doubled, was ended by an even better one-handed running catch by Tahir, who could scarcely believe the ball stuck.
Farhaan Behardien and Davids combined for a 43-run stand that wasn’t threatening but had the ability to get out of hand.
It consumed 37 balls and it was ended by Aaron Phangiso, who bamboozled Davids with a straighter one. Albie Morkel did not provide much resistance, falling to Phangiso leg-before. With him went the Titans’ chances of 190-plus.
Behardien was partnered by David Wiese, who hit a few lusty blows in his 24-ball innings. He ran out of partners as Behardien was well caught by Quinton de Kock off Vijloen while Tanvir’s yorker got rid of Roelof van der Merwe.