An impressive performance by the Unlimited Titans pacemen saw them to a thrilling 12-run win on the Duckworth/Lewis Method over the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Momentum One-Day Cup match at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Sunday.
The Titans, having been sent in to bat, posted a challenging 255 for nine in their 50 overs thanks to an inspired late blast from Qaasim Adams, but a three-hour delay caused by wet patches after a 20-minute rain shower, left the Lions with an adjusted target of 149 in 20 overs, which should have been an easy task given that they had all 10 wickets in hand when they resumed on 10 without loss after 1.5 overs.
But an aggressive approach from JP de Villiers, Ethy Mbhalati and Junior Dala, bowling just outside off stump and often getting steep bounce, blew away the Lions top-order as they crashed to 46 for four.
The Lions were grateful to Alviro Petersen for a counterpunching 48 off 36 balls otherwise they wouldn’t have had any chance of victory.
Petersen was dismissed, however, in the 15th over, after taking 16 runs off slow bowler Graeme van Buuren’s over and then promptly hitting a full toss to De Villiers running in from long-on.
De Villiers bowled out his four overs up front, finishing with excellent figures of two for 20, and Mbhalati (4-0-25-1) and Dala (4-0-19-1) were left to handle the closing overs. They weren’t scared to bowl short and extracted tremendous bounce from the grey-coloured pitch, making it very difficult for bowlers Matt McGillivray and Hardus Viljoen (16*) to score the 48 runs they needed off the last five overs.
Grant Thomson then sealed victory for the Titans in the glorious late afternoon sunshine, dismissing McGillivray (16) and Bjorn Fortuin (0) in the final over as the Lions closed on 136 for eight.
Adams showed what a fine batsman he is as his late hitting carried the Titans to a daunting 255 for nine.
The Willowmoore Park pitch provided the bowlers with assistance – especially in terms of steep bounce – and Adams provided a crucial late boost to the Titans innings with his 59 off 56 balls.
Veteran Jacques Rudolph showed that he is still on top of his game as he made a solid 77 off 105 balls at the top of the order.
Adams came to the crease with the Titans struggling on 146 for five, which soon became 181 for seven, but he played in measured fashion to make sure he was still in when the closing overs arrived. He then took a liking to Pumelela Matshikwe and McGillivray, finishing with four fours and two sixes as the Titans scored 52 runs in the last six overs.
The Titans had been sent in to bat and there was little sign of the troubles ahead when they reached 104 for one after 23 overs.
Henry Davids had been dismissed for 18 in the 15th over when he tried to sweep left-arm spinner Fortuin and was caught at backward square-leg, but Rudolph and Heino Kuhn then added a run-a-ball 52.
That promising partnership ended though when Kuhn swiped wrist-spinner Eddie Leie to long-off to be dismissed for 23.
Van Buuren came in and struck a couple of boundaries but was then trapped lbw on the back foot when he should have been forward, for 11, by McGillivray.
Thomson was then bowled for 10 as he tried to sweep Fortuin but missed, and the Titans had crashed to 146 for five when Mangaliso Mosehle (1) was bowled by the 20-year-old.
Rudolph soldiered on though, stroking seven fours and a six, but he was caught behind when McGillivray found the perfect length, as well as some extra bounce and nip away.
When Albie Morkel was bounced out for 2 by Viljoen, the Titans were in danger of being bowled out for less than 200, but Adams took charge and received stout assistance from De Villiers, who scored 26 off 18 balls.
There was something of a pall around the Lions camp after their dismal display against the Knights on Friday night, but they produced a better bowling display on Sunday.
McGillivray was able to make life hard for the batsmen as he bowled a super length, finishing with three for 49 with Adams carting him for two fours and a six in the penultimate over to tarnish his figures.
The young seamer had the last laugh though when he had Adams caught at long-off, Temba Bavuma taking a superb leaping catch.
Fortuin took three for 47, while Viljoen bowled well at the death to finish with two for 52, 13 runs coming off his first over courtesy of four wides, two of which went to the boundary.