van Wyk leads Knights to win in finals
Knights 152 for 2 (van Wyk 85*) beat Titans 227 (du Plessis 111*, McLaren 3 for 23) by eight wickets (D/L Method)
An unbeaten 85 from their captain Morne van Wyk led the Knights to victory over the Titans in the MTN40 final in Centurion. The visitors won by eight wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain reduced their innings to 23 overs. It was the Knight's third limited overs title since the inception of the franchise system in South Africa in 2004/5.
With lightening going off like fireworks around the ground, the Knights knew the Duckworth- Lewis method would probably play a part in their chase of the Titans' 227, and began in earnest. Albie Morkel opened the bowling for the Titans, although his brother Morne and seamer Ethy Mbhalati were both on the field. Van Wyk took advantage, hitting Albie to the point boundary and then to long-off in the first over. He was brutal in the first ten overs, showing no respect even when Morne and Mbhalati were introduced. He was particularly strong through the covers and helped his team bring up their 50 off 44 balls.
Van Wyk's opening partner Reeza Hendricks played second fiddle and fell to left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe in the ninth over. As van der Merwe made the breakthrough, the heavens opened and the match was delayed for 78 minutes. The Knights innings was reduced to 23 overs and they were set a revised target of 152 to win. They needed 85 off 86 balls after the delay.
The downpour did not put a dampener on van Wyk's innings and he reached his half-century with a drive through the covers. Van Wyk and Rilee Rossouw took the Knights to the brink of victory before Rossouw played onto his stumps and left Dean Elgar to finish the job with the captain. Van Wyk hit the winning run with eight balls to spare and after completing the single took a bow to celebrate guiding his team to victory.
The Knights bowlers had bowled out the Titans in 39 overs, after putting them in to bat in gloomy conditions. Seamer Ryan McLaren picked up a wicket in his first over when opener Henry Davids was caught by Rossouw in the slips. Jacques Rudolph and Blake Snijman both struggled to play big shots to the tight line McLaren and seamer Johan van der Wath were bowling, and both fell cheaply. Snijman was caught by Elgar at point off van der Wath and three balls later Rudolph handed McLaren his second scalp, after being caught behind by van Wyk.
McLaren was replaced by left-arm seamer Obus Pienaar after a six-over spell and that released some of the early pressure on the Titans. AB de Villiers played one convincing cut off seamer Victor Mpitsang but, worryingly for the national team, scratched around nervously for the rest of his innings. He managed to rotate the strike with Faf du Plessis, who established himself as the anchor.
De Villiers was dismissed for 31, thanks to a diving catch by Rossouw in the covers and that brought big-hitting Farhaan Behardien to the crease. His first boundary was a magnificent shot over left-arm seamer Jandre Coetzee's head for four and he followed it up with two more straight drives down the ground. Behardien looked set to stay with du Plessis till the end, but pulled a van der Wath delivery straight to Rossouw at short midwicket.
Albie Morkel was out for a first ball duck and then McLaren returned for a second spell with immediate success. He claimed the wicket of van der Merwe, who inside-edged one onto his stumps. Du Plessis continued steadily at the other end, unperturbed by the carnage around him, which only got worse. David Wiese was caught behind off Coetzee's bowling and Mangaliso Mosehle was run out off the next delivery. He drove confidently to deep-extra cover before Elgar swooped in and threw to Coetzee, who dumped the ball onto the stumps in emphatic fashion.
The Titans looked likely to be dismissed for under 200, but du Plessis had other ideas. He smacked back-to-back sixes off van der Wath in the 38th over, first over long-on and then over long-off, scoring 19 runs off the over, including a clever single off the last ball to keep the strike. Du Plessis registered his third century of the competition in the next over, but the Titans innings came to an end before they could complete their 40 overs, when Morne Morkel top-edged high into the Centurion sky and van Wyk completed his fourth catch of the evening.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent