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Ken Borland


Titans delayed by brilliant Cloete & Rossouw, but seal thrilling win

Posted on March 31, 2014 by Ken

It took the Unlimited Titans until 5.25pm on the final day but they eventually sealed a thrilling 32-run victory over the Knights in their Sunfoil Series match at SuperSport Park in Centurion yesterday.

A lunchtime rain shower, an extraordinary partnership by centurions Gihahn Cloete and Rilee Rossouw, and a plucky last-wicket stand all caused delays, but it was ultimately the second new ball in the hands of David Wiese (four for 55) and Marchant de Lange (three for 72) that won the day for the Titans.

Much credit, however, must go to the Knights. They were eventually bowled out for 402 to record the highest ever fourth-innings total in four-day franchise cricket.

While Cloete and Rossouw were adding 209 for the second wicket in just three hours, it seemed as if the Knights would storm to their unlikely target of 435. But in the midst of a thorough caning on a pitch that had flattened out beautifully for batting, paceman JP de Villiers made two vital breakthroughs either side of tea to remove Rossouw for 127 and Cloete for 129.

It allowed De Lange and Wiese to take the second new ball against new batsmen and they responded with a devastating burst of six wickets in nine overs to bring a Titans victory back into the equation.

Rossouw had earlier played a great innings to make a highly unlikely Knights victory the odds-on favourite. Given a wonderful platform by openers Cloete and Reeza Hendricks (46), who added 89 for the first wicket, he bludgeoned a 108-ball century which included five sixes.

Another of the new generation of batsmen pushing for international recognition, he has now passed 50 five times this season in scoring 621 runs at an average of 47.76.

Cloete has no international aspirations at the moment as he just tries to keep his place in the Knights team, and his wonderful innings was not only his best this season, beating a lowly 33, but a career-best.

But even given the total dominance they showed, chasing 435 on the final day remains one of those flights of fancy that is extremely rarely attained, even though the game today is so biased towards batsmen.

The skiddy De Villiers had Rossouw caught slicing a lofted drive over the covers and then bowled Cloete as he tried to pull a delivery that was too full.

De Lange struck with his fourth delivery with the second new ball as Rudi Second (11) mistimed a pull to square-leg and the fast bowler removed Obus Pienaar (6) in his next over with a brutish lifter that was well-claimed by Qaasim Adams running back from point.

Wiese then got in on the act as he had Gerhardt Abrahams (5) caught behind and then removed Johan van der Wath (0) and Quinton Friend (6) in the space of three balls.

The key scalp of the experienced Werner Coetsee (4) fell to the fired-up De Lange, the batsman unable to deal with another sharp lifter, and the Titans looked sure winners with the Knights 359 for nine.

But the spellbinding game took another turn as the last-wicket pair of Malusi Siboto (26*) and Corne Dry (19), both of whom clearly know how to wield the bat, belted 43 runs off the next 6.4 overs.

The end finally came as the impressive Wiese bowled the perfect ball, back-of-a-length with bounce and some away movement, and found the edge of Dry’s bat for a regulation caught behind and the Titans’ second victory of the campaign.

The narrow defeat is particularly hard on the valiant Knights, who now go into the final weekend of matches 19 points behind the Cape Cobras and clinging to the slimmest of hopes of taking the title off the defending champions.

 

 

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