Titans win, get home playoff
The Nashua Titans scored a crucial bonus point as they won their MiWay T20 Challenge match against the Chevrolet Warriors by eight wickets with five balls to spare at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.
The Titans were set a Duckworth/Lewis-adjusted target of 60 in 11 overs to win the match, but they needed to reach that total in 8.4 overs in order to earn a bonus point and a home playoff against the Central Knights.
With Martin van Jaarsveld scoring 23 off 18 balls and Faf du Plessis 22 not out off 18 balls, the Titans passed their target in just 7.5 overs.
With nothing to lose and so much to gain, it was a merry old bash for the Titans from the moment they came out to bat after a two-hour rain delay.
Henry Davids did not last long after a rather meek prod at a Rusty Theron in-swinger that trapped him lbw for a single, but Van Jaarsveld played some punishing strokes, collecting two fours and a six before off-spinner Johan Botha zipped a delivery past his shins and into off stump.
Du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien (13*) then finished the job without too much fuss.
It was the Titans bowlers who had opened the gate for them to snatch second place on the log, with the Warriors top-order floundering against an inspired seam attack.
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The Titans attack had reduced the Warriors to a miserable 64 for six in 14 overs when rain ended the visitors' innings, with Alfonso Thomas (2-0-11-2) and Albie Morkel (2-0-4-2) retiring to the changeroom with the most striking figures.
The Warriors had won the toss and elected to bat first, only for their top-order to disappoint, as they crashed from 35 without loss to 53 for six before Simon Harmer (9*) and Athenkosi Dyili (3*), the last two recognised batsmen, added 11 runs, the joint second-biggest partnership of the innings.
Openers Ashwell Prince (10) and Wayne Parnell (23) had staged the largest partnership of the innings as they put on 35 for the first wicket, but they were both dismissed in the space of three deliveries.
The Titans were somewhat under the cosh as the clean-striking Parnell rushed to his 23 runs off 16 balls, stroking four fours and a six, but the initially wayward Ethy Mbhalati made the breakthrough.
Having conceded eight runs from his first four balls, Mbhalati changed his line to over the wicket on to off stump and bowled a fuller, slower delivery at Parnell. The left-hander unfurled the big drive, but was hopelessly early on the shot, skying the ball high to deep mid-off, where Thomas took the catch.
Thomas himself removed Prince and Davey Jacobs for a duck in the next over, the fifth, as the Warriors crashed to 38 for three.
The delivery to remove Jacobs was particularly good. Pitching just outside off stump, the law of T20 states that the batsmen has to go for it and Jacobs pushed firmly, but bounce and away movement found the edge of the bat and Van Jaarsveld took the catch at slip.
International Morkel was the next to make his presence felt, trapping Colin Ingram (5) lbw with a delivery that looked to be going down the offside, and then zeroing in on the stumps of Botha (7) with a beauty that was angling in towards leg, before nipping away and hitting off stump.
The Warriors were stumbling like drunkards in a dark alley and it was only getting worse with the rain saving them from further misery.
The introduction of Roelof van der Merwe brought another wicket, the left-arm spinner zipping a delivery that also bounced appreciably on to the edge of Craig Thyssen's bat, wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn comfortably taking the tricky catch.
Thyssen was yet another batsman who failed, scoring just three from seven balls.
The Titans were desperate to get back on to the field as, after several failed attempts to qualify for the Champions League, they were well-placed to earn a crucial bonus point against the Warriors and therefore host the qualifying playoff against the Central Knights.
The bonus point has indeed moved the Titans up to second on the final log.
NASHUA TITANS - Heino Kuhn, Henry Davids, Roelof van der Merwe, Martin van Jaarsveld, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, David Wiese, Alfonso Thomas, Eden Links, Ethy Mbhalati.
CHEVROLET WARRIORS - Ashwell Prince, Wayne Parnell, Colin Ingram, Davey Jacobs, Johan Botha, Craig Thyssen, Simon Harmer, Athenkosi Dyili, Juan Theron, Andrew Birch, Makhaya Ntini.