The Mpumalanga Rhinos spurned a glorious chance to upset the Momentum Multiply Titans when they choked a modest run chase in their CSA T20 Knock Out match at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
In a match reduced to just seven overs a side because of rain, the Division Two minnows needed to score 70 for victory and comfortably broke the back of the chase with 39 runs from the first three overs but fluffed their lines in requiring just another 31 from the last four overs.
The Titans had scrambled to 66 for four in their seven overs, having been 38 for three after five overs when rain took the players from the field and more than a few eyebrows were raised when the DLS system added just four extra runs to the Rhinos’ target.
Openers Alexander Kok (16 from 9 balls) and Rubin Hermann (19 from nine balls) gave the underdogs the perfect start before both sacrificed their wickets to run-outs. Complete mayhem ensued as the incoming Rhinos batters appeared to believe they needed 18 runs per over rather than eight and attempted to hit every delivery out of the ground. Extraordinarily they managed to score at less than a run a ball while losing four further wickets.
For all the batting panic, however, Titans bowlers Okuhle Cele (2-0-7-2) and Aaron Phangiso (2-0-10-2) deserve enormous credit for keeping their cool and gameplans simple.
The Titans managed a remarkable 28 runs from the two overs they were afforded when the match finally resumed with their total on 38 for three with Sibonela Makhanya hitting two fours in his 12* from four balls and Donovan Ferreira smashing an unbeaten 19 from only seven balls with a four and two sixes.
Rhinos captain Yassar Cook had opted to bowl first after winning the toss in a match initially reduced to 17 overs per side and enjoyed immediate vindication after just three deliveries, albeit with a run-out, when Blake Schraader’s powerful throw caught Neil Brand (1) short of his ground attempting a second run.
Captain Dean Elgar (7) miscued a pull against Jon Hinrichsen and Gihan Cloete (10) was caught behind by ‘keeper Rubin Hermann off the bowling of Luvuyo Nkese. Jiveshan Pillay (13) was stumped immediately by offspinner Herman Schraader before the fireworks in the last few deliveries.
The Titans needed to win this match after losing to the Knights on Tuesday and will now have to beat the KZN Tuskers on Thursday to progress to the knockout stage.
MPUMALANGA RHINOS: Alexander Kok, Rubin Hermann, Yassar Cook (capt), Brian Koto, Blake Schraader, Liam Peters, Jarred Alder, Jon Hinrichsen, Akhulile Mkhatu, Luvuyo Nkese, Bamanye Xenxe
MOMENTUM MULTIPLY TITANS: Dean Elgar (capt), Neil Brand, Jiveshan Pillay, Gihahn Cloete, Sibonelo Makhanya, Donavon Ferreira, Dayyaan Galiem, Ayabulela Gqamane, Corbin Bosch, Aaron Phangiso, Okuhle Cele