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Morkel mauls the Eagles

A quickfire half-century from Albie Morkel led the Nashua Titans to victory by four wickets off the last ball of their Standard Bank Pro20 match against the Gestetner Diamond Eagles at SuperSport Park on Sunday

Ken Borland
26-Feb-2007
A quickfire half-century from Albie Morkel led the Nashua Titans to victory by four wickets off the last ball of their Standard Bank Pro20 match against the Gestetner Diamond Eagles at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
A target of 170 looked to be out of the Titans' reach as they bumbled to 108 for 5 after 15 overs, but that was before Morkel bashed the second-fastest half-century in Pro20 history, off 23 balls, to steer them home against the defending champions in another thrilling match.
Morkel's tremendous firepower brought him two fours and five sixes as he blazed 56 off just 28 balls to leave the Eagles stunned and beaten. The Eagles looked to be in control when they removed the Titans top-order by the 14th over, with their slower bowlers serving them especially well after Francois du Plessis had punished the new ball to the tune of 33 runs off just 19 balls.
But the introduction of Nicky Boje and Thandi Tshabalala changed the course of the innings, Tshabalala producing two wonderful pieces of flight and dip to remove Gulam Bodi for a run-a-ball 23 and Gerald Dros for 14, the ball after he had been hit for six. But once the spinners left the scene, Tshabalala taking two for 27 in four overs, Morkel bared his teeth. Victor Mpitsang bowled his first over for just three runs, but then Morkel ripped him to shreds as he took 20 off the 17th over.
More heroics followed in the 18th over from Johan van der Wath, in which another 20 runs were scored, leaving 15 required off the last two overs. Morkel's superhuman effort ended with two runs needed off three balls when he holed out at long-on off Van der Wath, but Farhaan Behardien, who scored a gritty, valuable 23 not out off 18 balls, had spanked the first ball of the over through the covers for four and, with the scores tied, a wayward over ended with a wide.
The Eagles, who had won the toss and chosen to bat, were given a rapid start by opener Jacques Rudolph, who top-scored with 61 off 44 balls, slamming six fours and three sixes. Morne van Wyk (27) once again shared a fine opening stand with Rudolph - 69 off 53 balls - but the Eagles then threw away wickets with something approaching gay abandon. Boeta Dippenaar (14), trying to run a single to alert wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn, and Ryan McLaren (10) were both run out, while Ryan Bailey (12) and Van der Wath (18) both made starts before holing out off poor deliveries.
The Titans kept their composure well in the field and Brendon Reddy (4-0-23-1) and Dale Steyn (4-0-26-1) deserved their fine figures as they bowled the last four overs of the innings for just 21 runs.

Ken Borland works for the MWP agency in South Africa