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Ken Borland

Titans & Lions like bumper cars crashing into each other in crazy derby, before hosts scrape through

Posted on April 19, 2024 by Ken

Corbin Bosch hits out in a matchwinning hand for the Northerns Titans. Photo: Lee Warren.

Like bumper cars spinning and bashing into each other, the Northerns Titans and the Central Gauteng Lions went head-to-head in a crazy Jukskei Derby at SuperSport Park on Friday night, their thrilling CSA T20 Challenge clash ending in a last-ball victory for the home side.

Chasing a moderate 155 for victory, the Titans looked well on course when they reached 105 for four after 14 overs. But the leg-spin of Nqaba Peter and the hit-the-deck seam of Evan Jones saw them each take a pair of late wickets for the Lions to set up a nailbiting conclusion, especially with so much riding on the game.

If the Lions had won, they would have been guaranteed a home semi-final and probably a home final as well because, with the Warriors being shocked by the North-West Dragons in Potchefstroom, victory for them would have given them a five-point lead at the top of the standings with just Sunday’s round to play.

For the Titans, the win keeps them in fourth place, but now just three points ahead of Western Province, who beat the Boland Rocks by a bonus point in Paarl. So Sunday’s match between great rivals Northerns and WP at Newlands is to decide the last semi-final place. The Dolphins beat the Tuskers with a bonus point in the battle of the KwaZulu-Natal sides in Durban and can still finish in the top two if they beat the Warriors on Sunday.

Corbin Bosch was the hero for the Titans on Friday night, walloping 19 not out off 14 balls to see them home by two wickets; Reeza Hendricks was the villain for the Lions as he missed a routine stop at long-off in the penultimate over, conceding a boundary when it should only have been a single. The normally reliable boundary fielder seemed to want to let the ball bounce one more time and to his horror it squirmed between his legs and over the line.

That left Northerns with 10 runs to get off the final over, bowled by Codi Yusuf (4-0-25-1). A meaty pull for four by Bosch broke the back of the task, but they still needed a single off the last ball to win. Yusuf did his job by beating Bosch outside off-stump, but he and Lungi Ngidi managed to run a bye as both wicketkeeper Ryan Rickelton and the bowler missed their throws at the stumps.

Wiaan Mulder had earlier had some car-crash moments of his own in the field, as he dropped a tough chance from opener Lhuan-dre Pretorius in the first over, and then conceded a boundary when the ball went through his legs.

But he came back excellently with the ball, conceding just 24 runs in his four overs and getting the wicket of Pretorius for a run-a-ball 29.

The Lions fielding also went through a magnificent patch when the in-form Rivaldo Moonsamy (24 off 15) was run out by a direct hit from point by Temba Bavuma, and Jack Lees (5) was run out by Jones. The visitors probably should have had a third run out when Jones scored another direct hit early in Neil Brand’s innings, but the TV umpire ruled not out even though replays suggested the Titans captain had his bat on the line but not over it.

Brand scored 29 off 27 balls, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Dayyaan Galiem (26 off 12) to steer the game the Titans’ way. But then they were derailed by Peter (4-0-29-2) crashing through the attacking strokes of Galiem and David Wiese, bowling both of them in the 15th over.

Jones eventually had Brand caught at deep extra cover and then Junior Dala (8) at deep backward square-leg in the 18th over, but Bosch sent the ball whizzing off his bat and to the boundary three times in the closing overs to win the race to the line.

Earlier, the Central Gauteng side had been sent in to bat and found it difficult to accelerate as they posted 154 for eight, which seemed no more than par. Wiese once again shone with the ball with one for 22 in his four overs, while Galiem was also brilliant with one for 20 in four.

Hendricks and Bavuma (21 off 13) added 46 off 32 deliveries for the third wicket, and Hendricks went on to score a pugnacious 44 off 33 balls with four fours and a six. There were also useful contributions from Mulder (25 off 22) and Delano Potgieter (21 off 15). But, having added 29 off 20 balls, Potgieter was run out when Mulder called him through for a bye and the 18-year-old wicketkeepr Pretorius threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end.

Potgieter had already hit a couple of sixes and who knows how many more runs he would have added. The Lions tried to run a bye and it proved a costly mistake; the Titans did the same off the last ball of the match and it worked.

And that’s how narrow the margins were in this dramatic derby clash.

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