The Global Gladiators were once again denied in the final of the Northerns Bash as, despite Cobus Pienaar’s brilliant century, the Tornados, inspired by Aiden Markram, beat them by eight wickets at SuperSport Park yesterday.
The Gladiators, who decided to bat first, were indebted to Pienaar’s scintillating 103 not out off 73 balls for their total of 161 for five.
The runners-up in the first edition of the Northerns Bash were off to a great start as Pienaar and Lerato Kgoatle (14) put on 64 in the first seven overs. But the Tornados were brought back into the game by wrist-spinner Thomas Kaber, who landed his first ball perfectly, Kgoatle went back and the umpire lifted the finger for lbw.
Five balls later, Sean Dickson, whose innings of 70 off 42 balls had killed the Tornados on Saturday, was caught by cow-corner running in as he mis-hit a poorly-executed attempt to pull a short delivery from Kaber.
Off-spinner Jacques Snyman then bowled a reverse-paddling Farhaan Behardien (7) three overs later and the Gladiators had slipped to 88 for three. But the left-handed Pienaar batted on, relying on well-placed singles and hard-run twos to keep the scoreboard ticking over and ensure there were wickets in hand at the death.
Evan Jones put his foot on the accelerator in scoring 23, but Pienaar’s beautifully-paced innings saw him reach the first century in Northerns Bash history in the final over, off 69 balls, with 13 fours and three sixes.
The Tornados relied on eight bowlers to deliver the 20 overs and Kaber (3-22-2), left-arm spinner David Bunn (3-22-1), Snyman (3-23-1) and seamers Gerhard Linde (3-22-0) and Corbin Bosch (4-31-0) all handled the pressure situation well.
Titans captain Henry Davids was all class at the start of the Tornados’ chase and it looked to be his day as he raced them to 62 without loss after six overs, being dropped on 28 by Behardien at third man off paceman Sean Nowak.
Davids only added four more runs though, before charging experienced left-arm spinner Ryan Houbert, missing the ball and eventually being stumped by Kgoatle, to leave the Tornados on 69 for one after eight overs.
They needed 93 off 12 overs, a required run-rate of 7.75, and the 19-year-old Markram continued to push the ball around like a seasoned veteran.
With his fellow Tuks star, Theunis de Bruyn, 60 runs were added for the second wicket off just 42 balls to have the Gladiators up against the wall.
De Bruyn eventually fell for 26 off 22 balls as he tried to slap leg-spinner Tertius Gouws through the covers, but hit the ball to extra cover Jones instead.
The Tornados then needed 33 from 31 balls, but there was no escape for the Gladiators as Graeme van Buuren (15*) and Markram continued to pierce the field with ease and completed victory with nine balls to spare.
The Titans are certainly blessed with plenty of young batting talent and Markram is rapidly climbing that list, impressing hugely with his measured innings of 81 not out off 54 balls.
Spinners are normally the most effective bowlers in the Northerns Bash and the Gladiators’ two best performers with the ball were Houbert (1-27) and Gouws (1-25).
The Tornados, who didn’t even use Heino Kuhn because of a knee niggle, are a formidable batting side, however, and they chased down a competitive total with aplomb.
The Northerns Bash is believed to be the only club competition in the world that can attract a handful of internationals and two-dozen first-class cricketers to play alongside their amateur colleagues and the move to play it twice a year has certainly been a success.
In yesterday morning’s game, the Pirates beat the Nashua Phantoms by 48 runs to claim third place. Opening batsmen Eldred Hawken (54) and Wian van Heerden (44) added 101 in 9.5 overs to lead Pirates to 173 for six, and off-spinners Tom Khoza (4-26-4) and Ruben Claassen (3-1-8-2) then bowled superbly to limit the Phantoms, the defending champions, to 125.
Scores in brief
Saturday round-robin: Pirates 158-6 (Tom Khoza 39, Wian van Heerden 42, Ryan Cartwright 22; Eden Links 2-31, Shaun von Berg 2-19). Phantoms 159-7 (Blake Schraader 42, Jason Brooker 54 not out; Ruan Olivier 2-21; Ruben Claassen 2-25). Phantoms won by three wickets. Gladiators 172-4 (Lerato Kgoatle 37, Sean Dickson 70, Bafana Mahlangu 24, Tertius Gouws 25*; Thomas Kaber 2-34). Tornados 151-7 (Mangaliso Mosehle 24; David Bunn 33, Jacques Snyman 47*; Ryan Houbert 2-25). Gladiators won by 21 runs.
Third/fourth play-off: Pirates 173-6 (Eldred Hawken 54, Wian van Heerden 44, Tom Khoza 20*). Phantoms 125 (Blake Schraader 36, Roelof van der Merwe 21; Tom Khoza 4-26, Ruben Claassen 2-8). Pirates won by 48 runs.
Final: Gladiators 161-5 (Cobus Pienaar 103*, Evan Jones 23; Thomas Kaber 2-22). Tornados 165-2 (Henry Davids 32, Aiden Markram 81*, Theunis de Bruyn 26). Tornados won by eight wickets.