Despite a valiant 70 not out by Roelof van der Merwe, a record haul of five for 13 by Elton Chigumbura gave Zimbabwe a thrilling, 12-run victory over the Titans in their Standard Bank Pro20 match at Supersport Park on Friday night.
Chigumbura started his reign of terror in the first over, when he dismissed Gulam Bodi (caught Prosper Utseya) and Albie Morkel (caught behind by Taylor) before the Titans had a run on the board.
Jaco Booysen was out leg before wicket for two in Chigumbura’s second over, and in his final over, Chigumbura made further inroads when Faf du Plessis was caught by Stuart Matsikenyeri for four and Pierre Joubert was leg before without scoring.
The Titans were reeling on 10 for five, and Chigumbura finished with the best bowling figures in the history of the competition — five for 13 off his four overs. His record spell earned him the Master Blaster Bowler award.
Chigumbura continued to make the Titans’ lives a misery when he caught Farhaan Behardien off Utseya for 16, to have the Titans in deeper trouble on 28 for six.
Van der Merwe and Heino Kuhn put on 38 runs for the seventh wicket before Kuhn was caught by Matsikenyeri off Taurai Muzarabani for 14.
Van der Merwe and Aaron Phangiso looked for a while as though they might just snatch victory for the Titans, smashing four fours and three sixes on their way to a 53-run partnership, but hopes of an amazing win faded when Phangiso was caught by Hamilton Masakadza off Keith Dabengwa for 18 off 12 deliveries.
At the start of the last over, the Titans needed 15 runs, but the first ball was a dot ball. Andre Nel scrambled a single off the second, but superb bowling by Chibhabha prevented Van der Merwe from hitting out, and he too managed just a single.
When Nel, trying for a huge hit, was caught by Timycen Maruma off the fourth ball of the over, the Titans’ hopes died. Van der Merwe ended undefeated on 70 — his second T20 half-century. It came off just 45 balls and included nine fours and a six, and won him the Master Blaster batsman award.
The Titans ended their innings on 139 for nine — 12 short of victory.
Earlier, Zimbabwe won the toss and chose to bat on a cool evening, after rain had delayed the start of play by 40 minutes.
Andre Nel opened the bowling with a maiden over. Ethy Mbhalati grabbed the wicket of Hamilton Masakadza with his first delivery, when the Zimbabwean opener was caught by Aaron Phangiso without scoring.
Brendan Taylor and Keith Dabengwa set matters right with a partnership of 54 before Dabengwa was bowled by Titans skipper Pierre Joubert for 25. Taylor then joined forces with Stuart Matsikenyeri to take the score to 109. Roelof van der Merwe ended the partnership when he knocked out Taylor’s middle stump for 38 runs.
Elton Chigumbura was run out by Gulam Bodi for seven, but Matsikenyeri and Chamunorwa Chibhabha took the score to 144 for four at the start of the final over. Van der Merwe struck twice in the over, to dismiss Chibhabha and Matsikeyeri off successive balls.
Matsikenyeri was caught by Farhaan Behardien for 51 — his second Twenty20 half-century. It came off 30 balls and included three fours and three sixes.
Chibhabha was caught by Faf du Plessis for 22. Zimbabwe ended their innings on a challenging 151 for six.
It was the Titans’ third successive loss, and means that their match against the Highveld Lions on Sunday becomes a do-or-die battle, with the winner joining the Cape Cobras, Dolphins and Eagles in the semifinals. The match starts at Supersport Park at 2.30pm. — Sapa