The Titans guaranteed themselves at least a play-off place in the Momentum One-Day Cup as they held their nerve at the death to beat the Highveld Lions by 12 runs in a tense, rain-affected affair in Benoni. The Unlimited Titans posted a healthy 255/9 in their 50 overs after being inserted by the Lions, and then managed to defend 149 when the Lions chase was cut to 20 overs by the weather. The bizhub Highveld Lions finished up on 136/8 after Alviro Petersen’s 48 had kept them in the game.
The Titans now have a three-point lead over the third-placed Sunfoil Dolphins, and a six-point lead over the Lions and the Knights, both of whom have just one game remaining. With the Nashua Cape Cobras eight points ahead of the Titans, it now appears that the Titans and Dolphins will be scrapping to see who grabs hosting rights for the play-off. The Titans’ knock was based around Jacques Rudolph’s 77 at the top of the order and Qaasim Adams’ run-a-ball 59 lower down, while Matt McGillivray and Bjorn Fortuin each took three wickets in a relatively inexperienced Lions attack.
The Lions reply was disrupted by rain in just the second over and they were forced to switch into Twenty20 mode quickly as a result. However, they lost Stephen Cook, Rassie Van Der Dussen and Temba Bavuma in the space of 15 deliveries, and when Neil McKenzie was caught and bowled by Grant Thomson, the pressure was on Petersen. He responded by stroking three sixes and two fours in his 36-ball innings, before hitting Graeme Van Buuren’s full toss to Juan De Villiers.
The Lions were still in the game going into the final four overs needing 44, but Thami Tsolekile fell in the power play to leave the lower order with too much to do. After employing a short-ball strategy with mixed results, the Titans attack reverted to yorkers in the final two overs to good effect, as Ethy Mbhalati and then Thomson held their nerve.
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