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Pieter Malan’s captain’s knock guides Rocks to CSA T20 Challenge final win over Titans

Caprain Pieter Malan guided the Rocks to a competitive score in the final against the Titans. Picture: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

Caprain Pieter Malan guided the Rocks to a competitive score in the final against the Titans. Picture: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

Published Feb 27, 2022

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Cape Town - The Rocks completed one of the greatest surprises in a franchise cricket season to lift the CSA T20 Challenge trophy by defeating the star-studded Titans at St George's Park on Sunday.

It was a day that David slayed Goliath with the Rocks completing a 15-run victory to set off the celebrations.

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Captain Pieter Malan has been the Rocks' premier source of runs throughout the tournament and he certainly kept his best innings for last.

Despite wickets tumbling all around him from the outset, Malan kept his team afloat with his fifth half-century of the series to ensure the Rocks could at least post a competitive total.

Initially he absorbed the pressure by simply rotating the strike to keep the scoreboard ticking over before recognizing the moment to seize back the initiative for the Rocks.

The Titans had thrown the ball to youngster Dewald Brevis in the hope that leg-spinner could squeeze in a couple of overs while the pressure was still on, but Malan instead saw it as an opportunity to lift the run-rate.

With the short leg-side boundary in his favour Malan launched Brevis for three enormous sixes that sailed high into the stands.

Prior to the Brevis over the Rocks were sinking at 57/4. Six balls later they had a lifeline with the momentum shifted towards the team from the Winelands.

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Malan was not finished yet though. He now had Aya Gqamane in his sights with the Rocks skipper smashing a further two sixes in another 17-run over.

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It was an innings of sublime quality that yeilded 71 runs off just 56 balls when Malan eventually succumbed with 10 balls still remaining in the innings.

But the Rocks were not finished yet. Hardus Viljoen, who was a late replacement for the injured Christiaan Jonker, provided the finishing touches the innings required with a blustering cameo of 32 of just 16 balls (3x4, 2x6) to lift the Rocks to 138/6.

The Titans would still have felt confident that they could haulnin the Rocks' total considering the quality they have in their lineup.

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But when Quinton de Kock fell cheaply to the impressive Imran Manack (2/14), the Titans procession begun. Fellow spinner Siyabonga Mahima (2/22) accounted for Titans skipper Theunis de Bruyn shortly afterwards and the Rocks suddenly had the belief that they could achieve the impossible.

The Rocks fielding unit certainly backed up their bowlers with an excellent display, especially veteran Ferisco Adams, who completed a brilliant run out and diving catch a crucial juncture of the contest.

Sibonelo Makhanya (37) and Donovan Ferreira (22) attempted to rebuild the innings in the middle, but the Rocks were not going to let this opportunity out of their grasp with Adams closing out the contest with ease in the final over.

"They played the big moments better than us. Their senior players stepped up in the big moments," Titans skipper De Bruyn said, while Malan was just elated for his young charges which consisted of two 18-year-olds in the Rocks starting XI.

Scorecard

Rocks: 138/6 (P. Malan 71, Viljoen 32, Shamsi 3/20)

Titans: 123/9 (Makhanya 37, Viljoen 2/14, Manack 2/14)

Rocks won by 15 runs

@ZaahierAdams

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