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Johannesburg - Despite a valiant effort from Owais Shah and Justin Ontong, the Cobras lost by seven runs to the Titans in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge match in Paarl on Tuesday night.
Set a mammoth target of 179, Shah and Ontong added 72 runs together, but a disciplined last over by Alfonso Thomas rendered their efforts, as they were unable to get a boundary in the last over.
The Cobras started well enough and a partnership of 32 between Dane Vilas and Azhar Mahmood kept the Cobras in touch with their target.
Some magnificent bowling by Ethy Mbhalati, however, who not only dismissed Vilas Ä bowled for 32 off 22 deliveries - but was also extremely economical with his runs, put the pressure on the hosts as the required run rate crept up.
Roelof van der Merwe’s two for 18 off his four overs, getting the wickets of Richard Levi (13) and Qaasim Adams, who made three, was also a contributing factor to the Cobras’ struggle.
Needing 13 runs an over off the last six, and 15 off the final over, Shah and Ontong set about their task, keeping the Cobras in the match for as long as possible.
However, 15 off the last over was too big an ask for the pair who were unbeaten on 61 and 31 respectively as the hosts reached 171 for four.
When the Cobras sent the Titans in to bat first, they could not have predicted the Pretoria side would score 178 for four - the second highest score posted at the ground in 20-over cricket.
The Titans got off to a flying start, courtesy of the experienced Jacques Rudolph who scored 35 off 19-balls.
Henry Davids made a sedate to start to his innings, allowing Rudolph to be the aggressor, but he found his feet against Beuran Hendricks and also punished the bowling of Dane Piedt.
At the forefront of the Cobras attack was former Pakistan international Azhar Mahmood who, after two overs, had figures of two for nine.
He made the breakthrough when Rudolph was caught behind, by wicketkeeper Vilas, and then his slower-ball bouncer found the edge to dismiss Van der Merwe (6).
New Zealand international Scott Styris was out of sorts and had only made six runs when Justin Kemp got a delivery to nip back at him and knock over his stumps.
Mahmood came back in the 17th over, which went for 14 runs but he managed to get another big wicket off the last ball of his expensive over.
Davids, who made 55 off 39-balls, played across his line only to be castled by Mahmood.
His 11th half-century, and first of the season, came off 35 deliveries and he shared a 92-run stand with Farhaan Behardien.
The pair punished anything slightly off line and put away the loose deliveries.
Behardien finished the innings with a bang, hitting a massive six off Mahmood over long-on and he remained unbeaten on 68 off 40-balls. - Sapa