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Provincial T20 Cup: Rain plays spoilsport as Knights, Titans progress to quarterfinals

Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland and Mpumalanga have been eliminated from Pool B of the CSA domestic T20 competition

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Rilee Rossouw scored back-to-back fifties in the Provincial T20 Cup  •  Getty Images

Rilee Rossouw scored back-to-back fifties in the Provincial T20 Cup  •  Getty Images

The biggest surprise in Pool B of the Provincial T20 Cup, the CSA's domestic T20 competition, came from the skies as rain washed out one match entirely and severely reduced another to put a damper on proceedings in usually dry Bloemfontein. The Knights and the Titans, both first-division teams, will proceed to the quarterfinals, with Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland and Mpumalanga eliminated.
The Knights were the strongest of the four teams and announced themselves with a six-wicket win over the Titans before a convincing win over the Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland side. They would have fancied full points in their finale against Mpumalanga, but the match got abandoned on Thursday afternoon.
The Titans, on the other hand, wobbled, but successfully defended 66 in a seven-over affair against Mpumalanga, who lost both matches they played. A plucky Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland side could not match up to the Knights or the Titans but comprehensively beat Mpumalanga.
Runs for Rilee Rossouw
As one of the players who left, leaving a bitter taste in South African cricket's mouth (remember the time he sent the then national coach Russell Domingo an email when he signed a Kolpak deal, and spelt Russell incorrectly?), Rilee Rossouw is already catching eyes on his return. He scored an unbeaten 73 off 51 balls to anchor the Knights' chase of 144 against the Titans and then scored 67 off 47 balls to help the Knights post a match-winning 154 for 5 against Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland. His two half-centuries put him second on the run-scorers' charts, behind Zubayr Hamza, and potentially back on the national radar.
Delport does the business
Another returnee is Cameron Delport , who played for South Africa before becoming something of a journeyman. Delport has an impressive array of teams to his name including franchises in the PSL, CPL and Afghanistan's Shpageeza Cricket League and has now signed on for Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland. He made an instant statement with his 39-ball 72 not out in their successful chase of 113 against Mpumalanga and though it may be too late for him to continue pushing for an international career, he is guaranteed to entertain.
Dean dropped?
Test captain Dean Elgar is one of very few nationally contracted players in this competition - those who are not at the IPL are in a camp ahead of the T20 World Cup - but even his appearances were limited. Elgar captained the Titans in their first two matches, where he scored 41 in a losing cause against the Knights and 7 in their victory over Mpumalanga but sat out the must-win third game against Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland. Aaron Phangiso led the Titans in Elgar's absence, while Jandre Pretorius opened the batting in his first appearance for the province and scored 40 runs off 39 balls to help the Titans post a winning target.
Matheson's Mpumalanga won't take this lying down
Their twin defeats and the fact that they are one of two teams (Limpopo being the other) whose red-ball matches will not count as first-class fixtures, Mpumalanga have a lot of pride and a reputation to make. So little known are they that they were incorrectly called Limpopo by the broadcasters, and their coach Gordon Matheson was quick to point it out at the first chance he got. They may be little-known, but Mpumalanga have a few potential headliners. Wicketkeeper-batter Rubin Hermann was their top-scorer with 32 off 31 balls against Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland, and their captain, pace bowler Luvuyo Nkese, appears a good prospect.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent