Titans pip Warriors in Challenge playoff

Peter Martin

THE Titans beat the Chevrolet Warriors by four wickets with one ball to spare in the playoff of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge at Buffalo Park in East London yesterday.

Set to score 128 for victory, an explosive 41 not out by Farhaan Behardien, with three sixes and one four off only 26 balls, took victory away from the Warriors.

There was an exciting start to the Titans’ innings. After reaching 21 after four overs, Heino Kuhn was bowled by Lundi Mbane for five and three balls later batting hope Herschelle Gibbs was sent packing, having played on to Mbane.

Then, off the last ball of the over, Henry Davids narrowly escaped being run out when AB de Villiers tipped a ball and ran. Mbane ran up the pitch to field the ball, broke the wicket, but was a split-second too late to get the decision.

De Villiers escaped a stumping chance on 11 when wicketkeeper Adrian McLaren missed a Simon Harmer delivery with the batsman well out of his crease. De Villiers went on to score 31 off 36 balls.

Davids was eventually bowled by English professional Samit Patel for 23, but Berhardien was dropped by Davy Jacobs off Harmer at mid-on, a hard chance which the fielder juggled but could not hold. The next ball was slammed for six over long-on and Behardien cracked a further two massive sixes off Harmer who conceded 16 runs in his final over.

With excitement mounting, McLaren let through four byes, but Rusty Theron struck back next ball by bowling Albie Morkel for nine at 111 for five wickets.

With two overs to go, 14 runs were needed, but new batsman David Wiese was missed by Christiaan Jonker off Wayne Parnell on the mid-wicket boundary and the ball trickled over the rope for four. Next ball, Wiese swung lustily and was caught by Jonker in the same position. Titans needed six off the final over and eventually, with two wanted off two balls, Berhardien crashed Theron to the cover boundary to sink the Warriors.

Earlier, the Titans decided to field first and Jonker, who started the match as the Warriors’ leading batsman boasting 310 runs, did not last long, perishing in the second over for a single after slashing at a wide ball from Alfonso Thomas.

Then Jacobs crashed Morne Morkel over square- leg and long-off for sixes to have the crowd in raptures, particularly when he carved a four the same over, taking 16 off Morkel’s first over.

But disaster came for Colin Ingram at 33 when he was magnificently caught by Eden Links, diving to his right off a hard- hit drive to pluck the ball out of the air off Alfonso Thomas, who had changed ends and claimed his second wicket.

The Warriors’ 50 came up in the eighth over, with Jacobs continuing to keep the scoreboard ticking over nicely with some deft drives and pulls. He found a willing partner in Patel, who drove Links over the long-on boundary for a six, but was caught at deep cover off Roelof van der Merwe for 19 at 62 for three. The pair added 29 off 28 balls and Links immediately left the field after pulling a muscle in his leg. He was replaced by Jacques Rudolph.

At the halfway stage the Warriors were on 64/3, with Jacobs on 35. McLaren had a bit of luck on 13 when he was dropped by Davids on the deep mid-wicket boundary off Albie Morkel, but went for 20 when he was caught off Morne Morkel. The fast bowler struck twice in his third over when Jacobs was caught off a skier. Parnell, Craig Thyssen and Harmer all perished looking for quick runs and Thomas took three wickets, including Harmer and Theron off the last two balls of the innings.

The Titans will now play the Highveld Lions in the final at the Wanderers on Sunday and have also booked their place in the lucrative Champions League later this year.

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