Titans oust Knights in a thriller
Farhaan Behardien and Alfonso Thomas' late exploits helped Titans edge out Knights in a one-over eliminator in Centurion to set up a clash with Lions in the final on Sunday. Titans, who batted first in the eliminator, had middle-order batsman Behardien to thank as he smashed a six and a four over extra cover to give Knights a target of 20 runs. But it was the Thomas' stranglehold on the Knights batsmen that closed the contest as he gave away only six runs.
Chasing 145 for a victory, Titans were in trouble early as they were reduced to 29 for 4 after Johan van der Wath removed the dangerous pair of Roelof van der Merwe and Faf du Plessis in his third over. Titans' problems were further compounded when tournament's top wicket-taker, Jandre Coetzee removed Martin van Jaarsveld after he had scored 24. With 78 still required in nine overs, Albie Morkel, who scored 25 off 21 balls, combined with Behardien in a 53-run partnership to bring the Titans close. In the last three overs, 26 runs were required and Titans let the game slip as both their set batsmen were removed. When the last over started, the home side needed 13 and were in a dire situation when Thomas swung and missed first three balls off Coetzee. However, he connected in the fourth and the sixth ball, well enough to launch the ball out of the boundary to tie the score.
Knights were put into bat and openers Morne van Wyk and Rilee Rossouw immediately stuck into van der Merwe's spin to take 15 runs. However, van der Merwe got his revenge in the next over as he took a diving catch at deep-square leg to remove Rossouw. Two more diving catches later by Morkel, one of them one-handed at the long-on boundary, Knights started to falter. Spinners Eden Links and du Plessis slowed the Knights with few tight overs in the middle of the innings. However, Ryan McLaren, who scored 42 off 28 balls, stayed unbeaten till the end to set up a competitive target, which proved just a little short in the end.
With this victory, Titans have also qualified for the Champions League.