A critical final over with the bat and a composed display with the ball paved the way for the Multiply Titans to be crowned T20 Challenge champions for a second successive season after they ousted the Warriors by six runs in a tense final in Centurion on Friday.
After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, the host stuttered their way through most of their innings until David Wiese did most of the work in a 19-run final over to help post 155/6.
That seemed to tilt the balance of the game at SuperSport Park and the visitors then lost two defining early wickets and another two in the latter part of the innings as they were restricted to 149/6.
Lungi Ngidi was the pick of the bowlers with 2/27, while Tabraiz Shamsi bagged 2/36 as the Titans recovered from losing captain Albie Morkel through injury to take the 2016 crown.
But they had to graft hard for their success – particularly after a below-par performance with the bat on what was a tricky wicket.
Aiden Markram top-scored with 33 and was amongst several players who got starts on a picturesque evening in Pretoria. Morkel also hit 21, before Wiese exploded in Sisanda Magala’s final over to end unbeaten on 24 off 15 balls.
Basheer Walters was the pick of the bowlers with 1/15, while Colin Ingram claimed 1/24. Kyle Abbott managed 1/27.
The Titans knew that a special effort was needed in order for them to defend their crown and they were outstanding in the field.
Morkel (1/5) dismissed Clyde Fortuin (0) with the fifth ball of the innings, which proved to be his last ball, before Wiese (1/31) claimed the big wicket of Jon-Jon Smuts, both falling inside the first 14 deliveries.
Ingram, another of the star men, was next to go for 12 as Ngidi left the Warriors on 43/3. Christiaan Jonker (33) put his side back on course for victory with a 48-run fourth wicket partnership with Colin Ackermann (34), before a rush of blood saw him fall to Shamsi.
Qaasim Adams, on loan from the Titans, then looked like he would win the game alongside Ackermann during a 34-run stand for the fifth wicket.
But both men fell within the space of three balls as the Warriors’ chances disappeared. Even though Magala and Lesiba Ngoepe brought the equation down to 12 off the final over, their lack of hitting power handed the first title of the season to the Titans.