The anticlimax of Morkel v Steyn
Titans have begun with a spinner in each game in this Champions League, and with relative success - in their first game Roelof van der Merwe had Vijay beaten and bowled for a duck, in the second against Brisbane Heat, he was tidy. This time though, captain Henry Davids decided to spring a surprise on the opposition: he came on himself. Davids has only bowled 32 overs in 90 matches previously, and had been expensive. But, apparently, he decided it was not wise to expose the left-arm spin of van der Merwe against Sunrisers Hyderabad's two left-handed openers. He was decent with his offspin too, until, in his bid to thwart an advancing Shikhar Dhawan, he tried to cramp him up but was tickled down to fine leg for four. He finished with the commendable figures of 1 for 18 in his four.
Sunrisers had just lost their openers after a quickfire start and Titans were beginning to tie down the scoring. They were helped along in that cause by a spectacular catch from Davids. Hanuma Vihari, one of Sunrisers' struggling local batsmen, attempted to pull a short one off medium pacer David Wiese, got the ball high on the bat and skied the ball in the direction of square leg. Davids, fielding at midwicket, ran across with his eyes trained on the ball, straining his neck so that he didn't lose sight of it. At the last minute, he leapt against his momentum, towards his right, and pouched the swirling ball.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel have collaborated many a time for South Africa. What would happen, though, now that they were on opposing teams? Would the big quicks get after each other? Not in the least, it turned out, when Steyn came out to bat. Morkel dished out an inviting full toss, and Steyn gently tapped it down the ground for a single. That was the first and last time the pair faced each other in the game.
Steyn didn't go as easy on Marchant de Lange. In the final over of the innings, with Sunrisers floundering at 124 for 7, he went after his junior South Africa team-mate. Steyn made room for himself every ball of the over with different results, most fruitful: first he scooped a full toss over third man for six, then he sent one over point for four. The next ball was muscled over cow corner and the fourth, carved over point again. He wasn't as successful off the final two deliveries but, as Ravi Shastri quipped on television, Steyn had got the "sun to rise for Sunrisers at 5.30pm".
Davids had little trouble negotiating Steyn's short balls, but he was found wanting against an Ishant Sharma bouncer. He tried to hook, missed and was hit on the helmet hard enough for the ball to lob back to the bowler - Ishant even got an appeal in for caught and bowled. "Yes, it was a good one," said Davids afterwards, "I haven't been struck on the head in a while." He needed a break for a bit of treatment and, still a bit shaken, he missed the next ball he faced and was struck on the pad this time. Ishant had a second appeal turned down as the ball trickled away for four leg byes.
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo