Roelof bowls Titans to victory
Pretoria - Spinner Roelof van der Merwe showed that he is still firmly in contention for the national team as he bowled the Nashua Titans to victory by 11 runs against the KZN Dolphins in their MTN40 cross-pool match at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.
The Titans scored 202 for seven in 27 overs in their rain-interrupted innings, and then bowled the Dolphins out for 200, opening batsman Blake Snijman (68) and Van der Merwe, with three for 32 in five overs, playing the starring roles.
The Dolphins run-chase, needing a Duckworth/Lewis-adjusted total of 212, was a dour affair after openers Loots Bosman (24) and Imraan Khan (22) put on 49 in 5.5 overs, with just Ahmed Amla (48 off 38 balls) keeping them in with a shout.
Ethy Mbhalati struck first for the Titans, having Bosman caught at deep mid-off in an over in which he had already conceded 12 runs.
Two balls later, CJ de Villiers removed Khan with his first delivery, the batsman just not being able to lower his gloves as a vicious bouncer was fended to wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn, who took a fine catch diving high to his right.
Van der Merwe then ripped through the middle-order in a spell that won him the man of the match award, removing Ravi Bopara (9), Vaughn van Jaarsveld (7) and Amla.
Bopara fell thanks to a near-impossible catch by Faf du Plessis, a scorching drive actually going past him at extra cover before he stuck out a hand to snatch the ball.
Once Van Jaarsveld and Amla were deceived by arm-balls, there was a sense of numb surrender by the Dolphins, although Glen Addicott scored a defiant 30 off 21 balls.
Andre Nel, making his return to top-class cricket, claimed a couple of wickets in an expensive five overs that featured the usual amount of cussing and falling over by the fiery pace bowler.
Du Plessis picked up two for 33 in five overs as he gave the ball good air and enjoyed bowling in the closing overs, where Kyle Abbott's 21 not out off 12 balls could not mend the earlier damage.
The Titans had earlier overcome a costly rain delay as they finished with 202 for seven in 27 overs.
The Titans, having been sent in to bat, were in full command as Snijman (68) and Jacques Rudolph (32) took them to 105 for two after 14 overs, but the two batsmen fell in quick succession just before the rain arrived in Centurion.
Snijman, who looked in fine form in his 51-ball innings, fell the ball before the players left the field, looping a chinaman from Tabraiz Shamsi off the leading edge and into the hands of Bopara in the covers.
Snijman's clean ball-striking had brought him six fours and three sixes and his hitting straight down the ground was particularly impressive.
Rudolph, who had faced 26 balls and hit three fours and two sixes, looked set to tear into the Dolphins bowling, but the captain was silenced by a thunderous yorker from Quinton Friend that whistled past his bat and into off stump.
Play was then held up by thundershowers for an hour-and-fifty minutes, which was tough on the Titans as they returned on 127 for three with just 9.1 overs remaining in their innings and one relatively new (Du Plessis) and one totally new (Behardien) batsman at the crease.
Du Plessis (29) and Behardien (38), reading the tricky spin of Shamsi and Imran Tahir well, added 41 off 35 balls, but both fell to the dibbly-dobbly medium-pace of Englishman Bopara.
Henry Davids (2) and Kuhn (3) both came in at that time the batsmen hate, with just a handful of overs left, as Friend and Abbott each took a wicket in the closing overs.
Bopara was the best of the Dolphins bowlers with two for 26 in his four overs, while Abbott, who conceded just six runs in the last over, finished with two for 32 in five and Friend claimed two for 46 in six.