Rilee Rossouw scored a match-winning 73 not out for the Knights against the Titans in the opening Pool B T20 Knock Out match in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
The winning margin of six wickets with five balls to spare was driven by Rossouw’s innings (51 balls, seven fours and a six) that was a perfect mix of cricketing intelligence, innovation and power hitting.
After he and Jacques Snyman had put on 48 in the PowerPlay to reduce the target to little more than a run a ball (96 off 84 balls), Rossouw was impressive with his management of the chase, building key partnerships and facing fewer than 10 dot balls through his innings.
The Knights won the toss and produced one of the best all-round bowling performances of the tournament to date. They had the Titans under early pressure to the extent that they only managed to score 36-1 during the PowerPlay overs and 58-1 at the halfway stage of the innings.
The Titans must have set some sort of record by only hitting two boundaries up to that stage and it took them until the 16th over to get the innings run rate up to a run a ball.
Dean Elgar (41 off 38 balls) laid the early foundation and the fact that the Titans did not lose too many wickets up front meant they could accelerate effectively towards the end through the efforts of Sibonelo Makhanya (26 off 14 balls), Ayabulela Gqamane and Dayyaan Galiem.
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Makhanya’s drive over extra cover for four was the shot of the innings as the Titans scored 38 in their last three overs to post a respectable yet a little bit below-par target of 144. In the end, they managed eight boundaries and two sixes.
Migael Pretorius (3-21), no doubt benefiting from his recent spell in the Caribbean Premier League, was the pick of the bowlers while Gerald Coetzee, who only turns 21 on Saturday, produced a display of all-round brilliance in the field to back up his fast bowling, taking a catch above his head in the deep, throwing down the stumps with a direct hit and making a remarkable boundary save with an acrobatic horizontal dive.
When the Knights batted, Aaron Phangiso, on his return to the Titans, took the wicket of Matthew Kleinveldt with his fifth delivery but then Snyman and Rossouw took charge, hitting six fours and a six between them in the PowerPlay overs.
Rossouw’s absence from the Mangaung Oval for an extended period of years has not diminished his knowledge of South African cricket’s biggest outfield and he regularly hit the ball into open spaces to put the fielders under pressure and run twos.
There was a key partnership of 45 for the fourth wicket with Farhaan Behardien and an unbroken 49 for the fifth with Wandile Makwetu to get the job done.
Phangiso (1-23 in four overs) was the pick of the Titans’ attack.
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