Titans edge Lions in thriller
Wanderers - Fast bowlers Andre Nel and Ethy Mbhalati were the unlikely heroes for the Nashua Titans as they steered them to a last-ball one-wicket victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions in their Standard Bank Pro20 match on Friday.
Nel and Mbhalati scored the last eight runs required off the final five balls and were it not for their last-over heroics, the Titans would be relying on other teams' results to make the semifinals, having lost their first two matches.
The Titans were chasing 170 for victory, but fast bowler Ethan O'Reilly quickly had them in trouble as he reduced them to 37 for two inside the first five overs.
The pacy O'Reilly bowled Blake Snijman for a duck in the first over of the innings, and then removed Roelof van der Merwe, who had looked dangerous in scoring a quickfire 23 off 14 balls.
Opening batsman Jacques Rudolph had just 13 at that stage, but his knock grew into the most substantial of the innings as he batted through to the 17th over and scored 58 off 43 balls to keep alive the Titans' slim hopes of victory.
Rudolph eventually fell, hooking Robbie Frylinck to deep midwicket, with 29 runs needed in three overs, with just two wickets in hand.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle, coming in all the way down at number nine, scored an important 11 off eight balls, but was late on a pull shot and bowled by Alfonso Thomas off the first ball of the last over, which the Titans began needing eight runs.
But despite the experienced Thomas bowling an excellent over, Nel managed to smear two runs to cow corner and then a single to wide long-on, while Mbhalati scrambled two leg-byes, a single to long-on and then completed an exciting victory when he inside-edged the final ball for four to fine-leg.
The Titans looked out of the contest when both Rudolph and David Wiese, run out for five, exited in the 17th over, as the Lions quickly ran through the Titans middle-order, Henry Davids (nine), Farhaan Behardien (13), Albie Morkel (18) and Pierre Joubert (seven) all failing to be the supporting batsman Rudolph needed.
Pace bowlers O'Reilly (4-0-25-2) and Thomas (4-0-30-2) were the best of the Lions bowlers and will be devastated to end on the losing side.
Earlier, the Highveld Lions had failed to really kick on from a good start as they posted 169 for five.
The Lions, who were sent in to bat, had raced to 90 for one at the halfway stage, but the Titans had plans afoot to gradually tighten the noose and the second half of the innings saw just 79 runs scored for the loss of four wickets.
Captain Alviro Petersen's excellent 54 off 42 balls, with six fours and a six, set the platform for the Lions, with Jonathan Vandiar (23) and Gulam Bodi (27) producing some exciting strokeplay around their captain in support.
Vandiar hit four fours before an attempted late cut off Wiese saw him exit, well caught by wicketkeeper Mosehle standing up.
Bodi was quickly into his stride, scoring his 27 off just 18 balls with three fours, before being adjudged lbw after missing a sweep off left-arm spinner Van der Merwe, a decision that he will no doubt be curious about.
Bodi's dismissal brought an end to the quick scoring as Mbhalati, Joubert, Wiese and Van der Merwe bowled the next six overs for just 39 runs.
The pugnacious Van der Merwe, who is known as The Bulldog, then added some more bite to his bark when he deceived Petersen, who came down the pitch and miscued a drive to long-off, the catch being neatly taken by Snijman.
Zander de Bruyn patiently accumulated 35 off 26 balls, but Van der Merwe then showed his fielding skills as he raced eastwards and dived forward to take a fine catch at deep cover off Mbhalati off the last ball of the final over.
Frylinck packed some punch in the final over, hitting a six and a four off Nel, while Jean Symes finished on 14 not out and Neil McKenzie was not required to face a ball.
The well-travelled Nel deserved the wicket of Frylinck, having bowled particularly well up front, but it was the medium-pace of Mbhalati (4-0-31-1) and Wiese (4-0-28-1) which dug the Titans out of a hole with their excellent bowling.
bizhub Highveld Lions - Alviro Petersen, Jonathan Vandiar, Gulam Bodi, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile, Robbie Frylinck, Alfonso Thomas, Paul Harris, Ethan O'Reilly.
Nashua Titans - Jacques Rudolph, Blake Snijman, Henry Davids, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, Mangaliso Mosehle, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Pierre Joubert, Andre Nel, Ethy Mbhalati.
J Vandiar c Mosehle b Wiese 23
A Petersen c Snijman b van der Merwe 54
G Bodi lbw b van der Merwe 27
Z de Bruyn c van der Merwe b Mbhalati 35
J Symes not out 14
R Frylinck c Snijman b Nel 10
N McKenzie not out 0
Extras: (w6) 6
Total: (for five wickets) 169 €“ 20 overs
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-99, 3-122, 4-156, 5-167 Bowling: Mbhalati 4-0-31-1 (2w), Nel 4-0-34-1 (2w), Joubert 4-0-38-0, Wiese 4-0-28-1, Van der Merwe 3-0-28-2 (2w), Behardien 1-0-10-0
B Snijman b O'Reilly 0
J Rudolph c de Bruyn b Frylinck 58
R van der Merwe c McKenzie b O€™Reilly 23
H Davids b Harris 9
F Behardien c Thomas b McKenzie 13
A Morkel b Thomas 18
P Joubert c Thomas b de Bruyn 7
D Wiese run out (Petersen/Tsolekile) 5
M Mosehle b Thomas 11
A Nel not out 13
E Mbhalati not out 5
Extras: (lb7, w3) 10
Total: (for nine wickets) 172 - 20 overs
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-37, 3-68, 4-90, 5-113, 6-131, 7-137, 8-141, 9-162
Bowling: O'Reilly 4-0-25-2 (1w), Frylinck 4-0-41-1 (1w), Thomas 4-0-30-2, Harris 4-0-35-1 (1w), De Bruyn 3-0-30-1, McKenzie 1-0-4-1
Result: Titans win by one wicket