/ 20 March 2008

Titans take domestic limited-overs title

Excellent batting and bowling took the Titans to a well-deserved 38-run victory over the Warriors in the final of the MTN domestic championship at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.

It was the Titans’ first victory in the knock-out competition since it started in 1981/82, although Northern Transvaal won the Standard Bank League in 1996/97. The Titans dominated the championship this year, losing only one match, and while the Cape Cobras might have been disappointed that their semifinal against the Titans was washed out, the Titans were deserving winners.

Put in to bat by the Warriors, the Titans scored an impressive 269-6 — the highest total in any match in the championship this season. Roelof van der Merwe registered his third limited-overs half-century and Farhaan Behardien raced to his fifth off just 28 balls, hitting two fours and four sixes. He smashed two sixes and two fours off consecutive balls in Zander de Bruyn’s last over.

Van der Merwe and Faf du Plessis shared a third-wicket stand of 78 off 87 balls, and Behardien and Albie Morkel put on 54 off 48 for the sixth wicket.

The Titans hit 60 runs off the last five overs to set the Warriors a challenging target.

With reports of rain in Johannesburg, the Warriors set off at pace to try to chase down the 270 runs needed for victory, with HD Ackerman racing to his 39th 50 off 43 balls. The visitors appeared to be steaming to victory when Titans captain Pierre Joubert made the vital breakthrough, with Ackerman caught behind by Heino Kuhn for 62. He and Justin Kreusch put on 80 for the first wicket.

Morkel made another important breakthrough in the next over, when Arno Jacobs — the leading run scorer in the competition this year — was caught behind for one.

With the fall of the two wickets, the Warriors’ run rate dropped dramatically, and they fell behind in the Duckworth-Lewis equation. Davey Jacobs made 15 before being bowled by Van der Merwe and Zander de Bruyn made 28, including 15 off one Van der Merwe over, before he was brilliantly caught by Behardien off Aaron Phangiso.

The Warriors went downhill after that, losing the wickets of Kreusch (caught Du Plessis bowled Joubert for 63), Robin Peterson (run out by Martin van Jaarsveld and Joubert for 0) and Riaan Jeggels (lbw Joubert for 0) in the space of four balls.

Johan Botha made a brave attempt to keep the Warriors in the hunt, but with the required run rate rising to more than 10 an over. But his efforts were in vain. He was bowled by Van der Merwe for 30 off 18 balls, including three fours and two sixes. Van der Merwe bowled Lonwabo Tsotsobe off the next ball but Sinethebe Mjekula managed to survive the hat-trick ball.

Theron and Mjekula gave the Titans a few nervous moments, as made hit 25 runs together, but eventually, man of the match Van der Merwe trapped Mjekula leg before wicket for eight and the Titans had won with 14 balls to spare.

”It was a team effort,” said Titans captain Joubert. ”We played for each other and for our franchise, and I am very happy that we made it.” — Sapa