JOHANNESBURG - The Titans will head back home Sunday carrying a ton of regret along with their luggage after coming up short in the final of the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 on Saturday.
Chasing what appeared a modest target the Titans never got ahead of the scoring rate as the Pakistani outfit, using a variety of excellent bowlers, claimed the title and the first prize of $150 000.
The Titans had won both of their group games, including scoring 218 in their opening match against the Boost Defenders from Afghanistan, but the gifts on offer Friday night were absent on Saturday, as the Qalanders and their phalanx of young bowlers turned the screws.
They attacked the Titans with leg-spin early, with Maaz Khan picking up the first wicket of the in-form Tony de Zorzi in the first over – with a lot of help from the umpire who gave a dubious lbw decision with replays suggesting the ball had pitched outside the leg-stump.
Although the likes of Theunis de Bruyn, Rivaldo Moonsamy and Heino Kuhn, kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos, they failed to put enough pressure on the Pakistan side by hitting boundaries.
After the spinners kept the top order in check, the quicks, Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi, who’s just 19, turned the screws and ultimately won the game for their side. “They bowled brilliantly in the last seven overs, they nailed their yorkers,” said Titans captain Albie Morkel.
The Titans needed 47 runs off the last five overs, but just couldn’t get the ball to the boundary enough as the accuracy of the Qalanders quicks proved too good. While everyone chipped in with a reasonable score, with De Bruyn top scoring with 37, no one could bat through the innings as De Zorzi had done in the game against the Boost Defenders a point the Titans coach Mark Boucher picked up on afterwards when he bemoaned the loss of the two early wickets.
We’ve witnessed a great exhibition of T20 cricket in Abu Dhabi over the last three days and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. #AbuDhabiT20
Well done to this year’s winners. the @lahoreqalandars 🏆 pic.twitter.com/JHrafIuhPj
Chris Morris had seemingly given the South African team control of the game with a magnificent spell in which he conceded just 17 runs in four overs. Tshepo Moreki picked up three wickets and leg-spinner Shaun von Berg two, as the Titans gave themselves a chance by restricting the Pakistan outfit to less than 150 runs.
The six-time South African T20 champions will look back at an opportunity missed, but they will also recognise the skill and consistency of the two young Pakistani quicks, who seem to be another set off a seemingly endless conveyor belt of good fast bowlers which that country produces.;
Lahore Qalanders 148/6
Multiply Titans 133/6
Lahore Qalanders won by 15 runs