The Titans, chasing 259 for victory, finished on 254 for seven in their 50 overs, which was a fine recovery from 28 for three and with Heino Kuhn retired hurt. Farhaan Behardien (60) and David Wiese (94) added 113 off 131 balls for the fourth wicket to haul the visitors back into contention, and young Heinrich Klaasen scored a valiant 43 not out but just could not get his team across the line as the experienced Hardus Viljoen and Dwaine Pretorius bowled cleverly at the death.
“I thought we did brilliantly to get close because the pitch got worse and 259 was probably a bit too much on that wicket. It was turning throughout, it was slow, the ball began to go through the top and it was very difficult to get the ball away. So to finish just four short meant it was a very good game, with a lot of positives for us,” Walter told The Pretoria News yesterday.
Perhaps the greatest of these positives was the innings of Wiese which marked the all-rounder out as a batsman of serious ability and not just a lower-order power hitter. Despite coming in after just 10.4 overs with the top-order blown away, Wiese was able to adapt, rebuilding the innings with Behardien while still scoring at a decent rate. He reached his 50 off 62 balls and needed just 40 more deliveries to score his next 44 runs.
“David has worked very hard on his batting after a lean season with the bat and to score 94 on a very tough pitch was a superb effort. He showed really good development in moving away from what he’s been tagged as, what he’s expected to be. To come in with three wickets down early and a man retired hurt is as tough as it gets, but he was able to grind it out until he found his rhythm,” Walter said.
Having shown such great judgement in the 101 balls he faced previously, it came as a surprise when, in a moment of folly, Wiese was run out attempting a second run to deep backward point on 199 for four in the 41st over.
“David turned poorly and didn’t seem to realise he was in trouble. Winning or losing games often hinges on one decision like that and he and Farhaan probably should have gone through to win the game for us. But we speak about losing wickets in the powerplay and Farhaan also got out trying to hit over the top,” Walter said.
While Klaasen was disappointed not to be able to steer the Titans home, his presence adds greatly to the batting depth available to the Titans in the coming season.
“Heinrich has certainly got serious batting capability and he’s already delivered at all levels below franchise level. He was batting in a very tough phase of the game and he didn’t throw it away. His thinking stayed clear, but the Lions were very smart at the death, they bowled back-of-a-length with no pace and I don’t think there would have been a different result even with a more experienced batsman there,” Walter said.
The coach conceded that allowing the Lions to score 258 for seven after winning the toss was too many runs, but he said they wanted to give fringe bowlers the chance of performing in the closing overs. Unfortunately the execution of their skills was poor and the home side, led by Devon Conway, hammered 61 runs in the last five overs.
“We could have wrapped up the innings with spin after Eden Links [4-35] bowled brilliantly and Roelof van der Merwe was turning the ball square, but we wanted to do things differently than we would in an official game and give guys the opportunity of bowling in that phase. A guy like Vincent Moore normally has good skills at the death,” Walter explained.