Chris Morris proves why he has a high price tag in opening CSA T20 Challenge match
And that's why they pay Chris Morris the big bucks.
With the Titans still requiring 34 runs off 31 balls on a pitch where the majority of the batsmen had struggled to play with any form freedom, Morris, who on Thursday became the most expensive player in IPL history, walked to crease and promptly finished off the CSA T20 Challenge opener with his captain Heinrich Klaasen in just 14 deliveries.
Playing with all the freedom of a multi-millionaire, Morris smashed 21 not out off just eight balls, including a towering six off leg-spinner Shaun von Berg and three further boundaries for a strike-rate of 262.50.
He did, however, leave the finishing touch to skipper Klaasen that promptly delivered the coup de grace with a maximum off Jacques Snyman to bring up his half-century off 40 balls.
It was a timely return to form for Klaasen after his struggles in Pakistan recently.
The Titans' six-wicket victory was though built upon a bowler that simply carried on from where he left off in Pakistan. Tabraiz Shamsi was excellent during the T20I series and was once again a cut above the rest on display.
The left-arm wrist spinner tore the heart out of the Knights middle-order to precipitate a collapse of epic proportions. The central franchise had sped out of the blocks to 84/2 after just 8.1 overs through cameos from opener Patrick Kruger (22 from 13 balls) and Andries Gous (35 off 19 balls), but when seamer Lizaad Williams (2/20) opened the door by removing Gous and former Titans stalwart Farhaan Behardien (0) with successive deliveries, Shamsi came storming through.
Although the 31-year-old was denied a hat-trick when he removed Grant Mokoena and Ferisco Adams with successive balls, he gained further success when he flummoxed Miguel Pretorius too.
VICTORY: An ideal start to the tournament with a 6 wicket victory, in what was a thrilling game.— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) February 19, 2021
Up next we face the Cobras on Sunday at 10:00.#TTNvKNI | #T20Challenge | #SkyBlues | #WhatMakesUsTitans pic.twitter.com/jJt3M5Muz7
With Lungi Ngidi and Morris cleaning up the tail, the Knights lost their last nine wickets for just 32 runs.
The procession of wickets continued when the Titans run chase began in equally dramatic fashion with Pretorius reducing the Sky Blues to 7/3 with Theunis de Bruyn (0), Aiden Markram (5) and Sibonelo Makhanya (0) all falling cheaply.
However, the Titans vast experience was always going to be factor in this contest with initially Proteas Test opener Dean Elgar (37 off 44 balls) beginning the restoration job with Klaasen (54 not out off 40 balls) before Morris got the job done.