Less-than-perfect batting and excellent bowling usually make for tight contests and today was no different, with both teams being dismissed on a fast Mohali pitch. Titans bounced back from being all out for 123, to beating Brisbane Heat by four runs, in the most exciting finish of the tournament so far. The loss, the Heat's second, drastically reduced their chances of making the semi-finals.
Heat had lost their first match in similar fashion, too, failing to chase Trinidad & Tobago's 135. Today's pursuit posed a similar challenge, but they disintegrated against controlled fast bowling. They needed 10 of the final over, bowled by Marchant de Lange, but they lost three wickets instead, two because of run-outs. The match ended with de Lange bowling Alister McDermott.
Titans needed a strong performance to defend a low total and de Lange led the way, pulling his team out of the batting rut with pace and verve. Debutant Matthew Gale's four wickets had put the Heat in a strong position, but their wayward batting cost them on a quick surface, the kind Australian sides are supposed to be familiar with.
Titans captain, Henry Davids, once again opened the bowling with Roelof van der Merwe's left-arm spin, but it was Rowan Richards who provided the breakthrough by dismissing Joe Burns. De Lange then hurt the chase by striking twice in his first over: Peter Forrest's uppish clip was caught at square-leg, and Cutting top-edged an 89-mph ball he didn't know much about.
James Hopes, the Heat captain, and Daniel Christian attempted to revive the innings, and they almost did with a 44-run stand for the fourth wicket, but they fell in quick succession. Christian's stumps was shattered by Richards, while Hopes fell to van der Merwe after having survived a missed stumping the previous ball.
The rising asking-rate needed to be brought down but the Heat lower order continued to struggle against pace. Morne Morkel and David Wiese bowled well too, picking up a wicket each, but de Lange and Richards were the most impressive. De Lange finished with three wickets, including bowling a tense last over.
Heat's batting failure followed a dramatic Titans collapse after the South African side had made a strong start. Gale dismissed Jacques Rudolph in the second over, but Davids and Heino Kuhn counterattacked immediately during the fielding restrictions. They were particularly harsh on Alister McDermott, who conceded 16 in his first over, the sixth of the innings.
The second wicket had added 69 in quick time when Kuhn skied Ben Cutting after making 31 off 27 balls. Davids followed soon after for 39 off 31 balls, run out while attempting a risky single.
Wickets tumbled quickly thereafter, with the big one - AB de Villiers - also getting run out after a mix-up with Farhaan Behardien in the 15th over. The rest of the batsmen threw their wickets away, with the last three falling in the 19th over bowled by Gale. A total of 123 seemed below par at the time, but Titans' quicks proved it was just enough.