Cool Cummins does it again
You know you are witnessing a good cricket match when the advantage veers to and fro with the unpredictability of a runaway train and then a moment of magic happens. Like when Pat Cummins cleared long-on to put Sydney within sniffing distance of the final.
Or when Cummins grounded his bat just before a direct hit came in. Or when he took the bye that put Sydney into the final and dumped the Titans out. This match was full of moments like those.
Cummins featured in many of them, as he cost his team runs with the ball but earned them back with the bat. While excitement see-sawed with almost every move he was involved in, Cummins showed little sense of being affected, especially after struggling with ball in hand.
"If he was [upset after his bowling], he didn't show it," Corey Richards said, adding that he had full confidence that Cummins would be able to handle the final few deliveries. After all, he had done as much in a Test match in this country less than a year ago. "For such a young guy, he is very cool under pressure. Some people are cooler than others when the game is on the line and when you do it more than once, it's not a fluke."
Cummins was one of the players Sydney were thought to have to protect during this tournament, as injuries have already studded his fledgling career. While he is under a monitoring program, Man of the Match Steve O'Keefe mentioned Cummins' maturity as an indicator of how he can manage himself.
"It is remarkable. Sometimes when you are talking to him, you forget that you are chatting to a 19-year old," O'Keefe said. "He is growing into a young man and he is such a talent, that it's important that we let him be comfortable in his own skin and let his cricket look after itself."
While Cummins will be lauded as the late star, Sydney may prefer to praise the players who featured in the first parts of both innings because that's where the contest was decided. After restricting the Titans to 32 runs from their first five overs, they blasted 54 runs in the first quarter of their own innings.
The Titans were made to come back both times and Martin van Jaarsveld, their captain, felt that the second was a bridge too far for them. "I thought we were down and out with the bat," he said. "But [Henry] Davids played a good anchor role and I have been talking [David] Wiese up from the first press conference so was glad he proved me right.
"The emotions are running high because we got ourselves out of a deep hole to get over 160 but then to go out and go and bowl, we were just nowhere."
Although the Titans took the match to the last ball, van Jaarsveld maintained that the early damage was irreparable in the end. "They got off to a flier and that cost us the game," he said.
It marked the end of the road for a local side who looked the team to beat after their first two matches. They overcame Perth and Auckland by posting big scores and giving their bowlers the freedom to be attacking.
They then considered themselves unlucky to come up against Kolkata on a day when everything just worked for the IPL side and they lost further momentum when their match against Delhi was washed out. Their countrymen in the Lions franchise - Sydney's opponents in the final - have had to claw their way to wins in this competition, but the Titans were unable to do the same tonight. Sydney, on the other hand, could.
Rather than giving them issues to mull over, O'Keefe said the tight victory proved to the side that they are capable of almost anything. "I can't say it in normal language but everyone was nervous and you could see it because we had a few uncharacteristic run outs," he said. "But we know we are playing our best cricket, we are tough to beat. We got there on our knees but good sides can do that. Good sides can win when they are not playing their best cricket."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent