The Titans, having won all three of their games on the first day, were knocked over by both the Knights and Cape Cobras yesterday and, with three teams ending on six points, they had to rely on the Highveld Lions beating the Knights in the last round-robin match in order for them to sneak into the final against the Dolphins.
The Titans batsmen were utterly clinical after being sent into bat in the final with captain Henry Davids setting the tone by hitting spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first three balls for six.
Mangaliso Mosehle then hammered off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala for four successive sixes in the second over and retired on 33 off just seven balls, with Farhaan Behardien (36 not out off 10 balls, 5x6s) and David Wiese (35 retired off seven balls, 5x6s) then picking up the cudgels as the Titans posted 126 for one, the highest total in the Franchise Challenge.
The Titans bowlers were considerably less focused, however, and the Dolphins raced to 94 for one in the first three overs of their chase, Wiese conceding 25 runs, Davids 33 and Dean Elgar 36 in an over that included six sixes and a no-ball.
Morne van Wyk, farcically omitted from the South African team to play in the Africa Challenge over the weekend because it was chosen before this tournament even started, was again the chief destroyer, belting five sixes in his 35 retired off just seven deliveries.
But left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe then produced a magnificent over, firing the ball into the blockhole, conceding just eight runs and removing Khaya Zondo and the dangerous Robbie Frylinck (28 off six balls).
That left the Dolphins with 23 to score in the final over to win and Behardien contrived to bowl them back into the game with two wides and conceding a six. With 14 needed off three balls, Sibonelo Makhanya pulled the medium-pacer to the square-leg boundary where captain Davids deliberately put down the catch to ensure Van Wyk had to stay in the dugout and could not return to the crease.
Tshabalala’s six off the last ball brought the Dolphins within a tantalising run of victory, but the clear-thinking of the Titans in the final over – as well as Van der Merwe’s brilliance – is what won them the match, with Behardien also bowling outside off stump so the batsman could not shoulder arms and be bowled.
In their first game of the day, the Titans lost by five runs to the resurgent Knights, despite Behardien taking two for eight and scoring 31 not out.
The match against the Cape Cobras was another nailbiter, with Mosehle seemingly having secured victory as his off-drive was heading for six, before it was intercepted by a leaping Stiaan van Zyl, who parried the ball back infield. The Cobras coach, Paul Adams, playing because of the injuries to Justin Ontong and Justin Kemp, dived to catch the ball one-handed to dismiss Mosehle and leave the Titans still needing four to win off the last delivery.
Wiese, who had excelled with the ball, dismissing Rory Kleinveldt and Dane Vilas with the first two deliveries of the Cobras innings, couldn’t find the boundary and the Titans lost by three runs.
But the Cobras were edged out of the final by the Lions’ victory and there was further celebration in the Titans camp when Mosehle, Wiese and Behardien, who will captain the team, were named in the South Africa squad for the weekend’s Africa Challenge.
Titans assistant coach Mandla Mashimbyi will be the head coach of the national side.
Scores in brief
Cape Cobras 91-1 (Stiaan van Zyl 32*, Dane Vilas 31*, Qaasim Adams 20*). Dolphins 96-0 (Morne van Wyk 31*, Keshav Maharaj 31*, Robbie Frylinck 31*). Dolphins won by six wickets.
Knights 99-0 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 26*, Dillon du Preez 37*). Warriors 95-3 (Colin Ingram 42*, Jon-Jon Smuts 36*). Knights won by four runs.
Knights 102-3 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 30, Tumelo Bodibe 33 not out; Farhaan Behardien 2-8). Titans 97-3 (Henry Davids 20, Theunis de Bruyn 28, Farhaan Behardien 31 not out; Werner Coetsee 2-16). Knights won by five runs.
Lions 78-1 (Brian Barnard 33*, Chris Morris 28, Basheer Walters 1-3). Warriors 81-2 (Colin Ingram 30, Jon-Jon Smuts 24*). Warriors won by four wickets.
Cape Cobras 97-2 (Stiaan van Zyl 32*, Qaasim Adams 32, Aviwe Mgijima 31*; David Wiese 2-6). Titans 94-2 (Farhaan Behardien 36*, Henry Davids 32*; Stiaan van Zyl 1-10). Cape Cobras won by three runs.
Warriors 112-1 (Jon-Jon Smuts 35*, Christiaan Jonker 36*, Rusty Theron 24*). Dolphins 113-0 (Morne van Wyk 31*, Robbie Frylinck 34*, Keshav Maharaj 24*, Khaya Zondo 24*). Dolphins won by six wickets.
Knights 82-1 (Reeza Hendricks 32*, Werner Coetsee 29, Dillon du Preez 20*). Highveld Lions 84-0 (Dwaine Pretorius 36*, Chris Morris 28*). Highveld Lions won by six wickets.
Titans 126-1 (Mangaliso Mosehle 33*, Farhaan Behardien 36*, David Wiese 35*). Dolphins 125-3 (Morne van Wyk 35*, Keshav Maharaj 29, Robbie Frylinck 28; Roelof van der Merwe 2-8). Titans won by one run.
South Africa team: Chris Morris (Highveld Lions), Mangaliso Mosehle (Titans), Khaya Zondi (Dolphins), Robbie Frylinck (Dolphins), Cameron Delport (Dolphins), David Wiese (Titans), Farhaan Behardien (Titans).
Saturday: 10h00 Kenya v Namibia; 10h50 Uganda v Tanzania; 11h40 South Africa v Zimbabwe; 12h30 Tanzania v Kenya; 13h20 Zimbabwe v Uganda; 14h10 Namibia v South Africa; 15h00 Kenya v Zimbabwe; 15h50 Uganda v South Africa.
Sunday: 10h00 Tanzania v Namibia; 10h50 South Africa v Kenya;11h40 Namibia v Uganda; 12h30 Tanzania v Zimbabwe; 13h20 Uganda v Kenya; 14h10 Tanzania v South Africa; 15h00 Namibia v Zimbabwe; 16h10 Africa Sixes final.