Johannesburg — The Titans spinning quartet tied the Knights in knots earning the ‘Sky Blues’ a spot in the final of the CSA T20 Challenge for the second season in a row.
After the bat-a-thon these two teams produced on Monday when they shared a world record aggregate of 501 runs, Wednesday afternoon’s semi-final was a more balanced affair that demanded greater patience from the batters.
Cloudy overhead conditions aided the new ball, while the slowness of the surface meant once the ball got soft the spinners could get some purchase. The Titans tweakers did a much better job than the Knights and the depth at their disposal proved too much for the Free Staters.
The Titans elected to bat, which allowed for an enthralling mini-battle between Gerald Coetzee and the talk of the sport at the moment, Dewald Brevis. The Titans teenager failed to dominate in the fashion he did Monday as Coetzee superbly executed a short ball plan, with which Brevis, for all his talent, couldn’t cope. Coetzee aimed a succession of short balls at Brevis, all clocking in the region of 150km/h, with the young right-hander fortunate on one occasion when he gloved one to a vacant region behind square on the leg-side.
The pressure Coetzee created led to Brevis’s dismissal in the next over by Migael Pretorius, who pitched one up, which Brevis mis-timed to Patrick Kruger at mid-off after scoring 9.
The Knights had control at that stage, but important contributions from opener Jiveshan Pillay – who played some stylish shots in his innings of 33 – and Theunis de Bruyn who made 34 ensured the Titans maintained a foothold.
Jacques Snyman’s part-time off-spin was proving difficult to get away, but Titans skipper Sibonelo Makhanya stayed composed after a slow start and made an important 45 off 34 balls to keep the innings together.
Snyman and opening partner Gihahn Cloete started quickly for the Knights, who posted 50 in the power play, but the introduction of spin changed the course of the innings and the match.
Together Aaron Phangiso, Simon Harmer, Neil Brand and Brevis bowled 14 overs and picked up 7/77 as the Knights collapsed in an ugly heap.
There will be some concerns about Phangiso who appeared to injure a hamstring while fielding, while Makhanya, who missed a couple of the round-robin matches because of concussion, was again hit on the head while batting, and didn’t field in the Knights’ innings.
His condition will be monitored over the next few days but the Titans will hope both he and Phangiso will recover in time for Saturday afternoon’s final.
Multiply Titans 158/6
ITEC Knights 120/8
Titans won by 38 runs