Rocks stun Titans to win T20 Challenge final

The Northerns Titans became the last team to be stung by the unstoppable bowling and fielding of the Boland Rocks when the Paarl squad shocked the tournament favorites by beating them by 15 runs in the CSA T20 Challenge final at St George’s Park on Sunday.

Chasing a modest 139 for the win, Northerns dropped to 29/3 in the power play, but put themselves back in position to win with two handy middle-class partnerships.

Heinrich Klaasen (17) and Sibonelo Makhanya (37) added 35 for the fourth wicket while Northerns recovered to 64/3 halfway through.

Klaasen was then knocked into flight and bowled by left-hand spinner Siyabonga Mahima, but Makhanya and Donovan Ferreira made them the favorites when they added 35 in 4.1 overs, taking just 40 more from 34 balls to win.

However, a run-out changed everything when Ferreira was caught short by Farisco Adams after tangling with Makhanya, and Hardus Viljoen then took a sharp return and caught the next ball to dismiss Aya Gqamane (0), the last of the recognized batsmen.

Boland was sharp on death and the Titans closed on 123/9.

Mahima (4-0-22-2) and Imraan Manack (4-0-14-2)’s spin got a bite out of the St George’s Park field, fatally undermining the Northerns’ pursuit, while fast bowler Viljoen 2/14 won in three overs.

After choosing to bat first, Boland lost wickets at regular intervals, but the fact that they came to 138/6 gives credence to the importance of an anchoring batsman in T20 cricket.

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Captain Pieter Malan, the leading points scorer in the tournament, scored 71 of those runs from just 56 balls and went through to second to last in a match winning effort.

Viljoen gave a late boost to the innings by not shooting out 32 on just 16 deliveries.

Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, aided by the tremendous frugality of Aaron Phangiso, who gave up just 13 runs in his four overs, again dominated the middle overs with 3/20, while Seamer Lizaad Williams was also good with 2/30.

But the Boland Rocks, the new franchise in the thriving cricket ground of Paarl, were worthy and popular champions.

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