For a long time it looked as if it was not going to be the Titans’ day as Willowmoore Park’s terrible facilities saw a three-hour delay in play due to wet patches after just a 20-minute shower, that after the home side had posted a challenging 255 for nine in their 50 overs.
The lengthy interruption, in bright sunshine, meant the Lions’ innings was reduced to 20 overs and their target to 149. With all 10 wickets in hand – they were 10 without loss after 1.5 overs when the rain arrived – the advantage was very much with the Lions.
But the hostile, persistent bowling of JP de Villiers, Junior Dala and Ethy Mbhalati reduced the Lions to 46 for four and, were it not for the brilliance of Alviro Petersen, who struck 48 off 36 balls, the visitors would have been right out of the game.
The dismissal of Petersen, caught by De Villiers running in from long-on off a full toss from spinner Graeme van Buuren in an over that had already cost 16, was obviously a key moment, and with bowlers Matt McGillivray and Hardus Viljoen being bombarded with short-pitched bowling, they were unable to score the 44 runs required off 23 balls.
There was much to like about the approach of De Villiers (4-0-20-2), Dala (4-0-19-1) and Mbhalati (4-0-25-1) in making full use of the conditions, especially the steep bounce on offer.
The Titans reached their total thanks to a late boost given to the innings by Qaasim Adams, who took a liking to the bowling of Pumelela Matshikwe and McGillivray in the closing overs, belting 59 off 56 balls.
It was a top-class innings by the 30-year-old, who came to the crease with the Titans on a shaky 146 for five. The departure of Jacques Rudolph, for a composed, high-quality 77 off 105 balls, and Albie Morkel (2) shortly thereafter, left them on 181 for seven, but Adams found a willing ally in De Villiers, who scored a bright 26 off 18 balls, in a crucial stand of 43 off 36 deliveries.
Teenager Bjorn Fortuin took three for 47 with his left-arm spin, while McGillivray claimed three for 49 after Adams hit him for two fours and a six in the penultimate over.