Ryan Rickelton hits a four to bring up the bizhub Highveld Lions 50. Photo: @LionsCricketSA on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The three-time defending champions will watch the remainder of the CSA T20 Challenge from the couch after this disappointing defeat against their provincial neighbours.

The Titans have struggled for rhythm and as a result momentum in this season’s competition, not helped by a number of injuries, which were added to yesterday before the toss. They were dealt a pair of major blows, with their two leading run-scorers Theunis de Bruyn (illness) and Henry Davids (broken finger) ruled out.

And then they fell into early trouble after Temba Bavuma chose to field, slumping to 47/4 in the eighth over. Farhaan Behardien would have known that in the absence of De Bruyn and Davids he would have to carry a big load, and he did so manfully, scoring 48 (38b, 4x4, 1x6). The problem for Behardien was he only had Grant Thomson to provide support, with the pair adding 77 runs for the fifth wicket. Thomson scored 37 (29b, 1x4, 2x6).

Just as they did in Cape Town on Friday when they restricted the Cape Cobras to 133, the Lions bowlers delivered another controlled and disciplined performance. The on loan Lizaad Williams made the initial breakthrough to dismiss Rubin Hermann in the second over. Migael Pretorius, once of the Titans, then picked up Diego Rosier and Tony de Zorzi in quick succession, with Wiaan Mulder adding to the home team’s misery by dismissing Jonathan Vandiar.

Williams finished with 3/32, while Pretorius and Mulder claimed two wickets apiece.

The Lions set about their chase in thrilling fashion thanks to a magnificent innings from the talented left-hander Ryan Rickelton. Anything remotely off line was dispatched to the boundary and when any of the Titans dropped short he played the pull with tremendous power. He scored 74 (47b, 6x4, 3x6) dominating a 72-run stand for the second wicket with Bavuma (22, 18b, 1x4, 1x6).

The Lions suffered a mid-winnings collapse with Rickelton, Mulder and Dwaine Pretorius dismissed within eight balls of each other for the addition of just one run as the Titans sought to keep their chances alive.

However Rassie van der Dussen showed why he’s been picked for the World Cup showing excellent composure to see off Tabraiz Shamsi and Junior Dala, before finishing the game off the last ball of the penultimate over by thrashing a knee-high full toss from Matthew Arnold over midwicket for six.

Besides knocking the Titans out of the competition, the Lions win also ensured they finished atop the log and they will host the Dolphins, who beat the Cape Cobras in Durban, in one semi-final on Wednesday. The other semi-final sees the Cobras travel to the Eastern Cape to face the Warriors, who stumbled across the line to defeat the Knights yesterday. That match will also be played on Wednesday according to Cricket SA.

Result:

Multiply Titans 148/7

Bizhub Highveld Lions 149/6

Lions win by 4 wickets

@shockerhess


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