A change of pace and a second chance
Kolkata might have scored many more than their eventual 188 were it not for an inexplicable loss of momentum in the middle of their innings. Brendon McCullum and Gautam Gambhir combined to add 63 for the second wicket in just five and a half overs before McCullum fell to CJ de Villiers and Jacques Kallis entered. It's churlish to criticise a batsman with 12,641 Test runs to his name over his strike-rate in a dead rubber Twenty20 match, and ultimately it mattered not a jot to the final result, but Kallis' subsequent 20-ball 18 came completely against the run of play. He and Gambhir put together 34 runs at just 5.66 to the over, and it was left to the likes of Manoj Tiwary and Debabrata Das to boost Kolkata's score.
The second chance
Roelof van der Merwe's left-arm spin played a major role in the drop in run-rate, but he went from hero to villain when Kallis attempted to break the shackles with a lofted stroke off David Wiese which should have been caught at long-on. Van der Merwe misjudged the attempt terribly, running in too far as the ball drifted over his head and bounced inside the boundary ropes for four. In uncharacteristically cavalier fashion, Kallis tried to repeat the shot to the very next ball but this time van der Merwe stood his ground at long-on, barely moving as the ball came straight to him.
Kallis' dismissal sparked a fightback by the Titans, as Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan fell in the space of one over to van der Merwe - Pathan picking out long-off first ball. Kolkata were 133 for 5 when they fell, with just over four overs to play. After a brief rebuilding effort that took up all of one over, Das took the game away from Titans with a brutal display of power hitting. Alfonso Thomas bore the brunt of his assault, with 19 runs coming off his third over, and Kolkata cruised to the highest total of the tournament so far. Das finished with a career-best 43 not out from 19 balls and the Man of the Match award for his efforts.
Whatever chance the Titans batsmen had of pulling off a huge chase quickly evaporated when they lost Heino Kuhn and the experienced pair of Martin van Jaarsveld and Jacques Rudolph in the space of four deliveries on the cusp on the eighth and ninth overs. Lakshmipathy Balaji did for Kuhn and van Jaarsveld, both of whom played inside the line of deliveries angled in from wide of the crease, to find himself on a hat-trick, while Rudolph holed out to Iqbal Abdullah. Farhaan Behardien survived Balaji's hat-trick ball, but fell soon after to the same bowler as Titans were well and truly scuppered.
It's something of an understatement to suggest that it's not often a No. 11 batsman finishes a match with a strike-rate of 600. Yet Titans' Ethy Mbalathi managed just that. Displaying a graceful lofted off drive that belied the batting ineptitude implied by a Twenty20 average of 6.33 and career strike-rate of 65.51, Mbalathi hit the only ball he faced - from Manoj Tiwary - into the stands beyond long-off. It was the very first time he'd cleared the ropes in this format. Given the manner of the capitulation of his side's 'proper' batsmen, they might well consider shunting him up the order in their match against Delhi Daredevils at Centurion on Tuesday.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town