Titans end eKasi drought as Hammanskraal celebrates cricket

HAMMANSKRAAL, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 13: both teams during the 2017 Momentum eKasi Challenge at Nelson Mandela Sports Complex on September 13, 2017 in Hammanskraal, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

HAMMANSKRAAL, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 13: both teams during the 2017 Momentum eKasi Challenge at Nelson Mandela Sports Complex on September 13, 2017 in Hammanskraal, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The Multiply Titans showed that they are on the money when it comes to their pre-season preparations as they hammered the bizhub Highveld Lions by 71 runs in the Momentum eKasi Challenge at the Nelson Mandela Oval in Hammanskraal on Wednesday.

The victory means the Titans finally get their hands on the trophy at the fifth time of asking, but more importantly, top-level franchise cricket was taken to a new township venue for the first time, rewarding the considerable amount of money spent on infrastructure at the impressive oval north of Pretoria.

The star of the show was opening batsman Aiden Markram, who would have only shortened the odds on him making his debut for the Proteas later this month as he helped himself to a superb 134 off just 110 balls.

The Titans had been sent in to bat by the Lions and, added to some tricky early batting conditions, they had Jonathan Vandiar run out for a duck. But Markram was simply imperious and, finding an able partner in Andrea Agathagelou (64 off 61) he set about putting the home side in charge.

On a pitch that became progressively slower, Markram timed the ball superbly and was finding the gaps with ease as he completed an 85-ball century and collected 15 fours and three sixes in all in his quality innings.

Markram and Agathagelou plundered 159 runs off just 137 deliveries for the second wicket and, with 18-year-old Jiveshan Pillay (56 off 47) then showing what a promising talent he is, the Titans had already reached 224 for two in the 35th over when Markram was dismissed, dragging a Craig Alexander slower ball into his own stumps.

With such a great platform, Heinrich Klaasen (35 off 22), Rivaldo Moonsamy (35* off 23) and Shaun von Berg (20 off 16) were able to go to town in the closing overs, with the Titans collecting 109 runs in the last 10 overs to post a daunting total of 363 for eight in their 50 overs.

The Highveld Lions had a tough time negotiating the impressive new-ball spells of Migael Pretorius and Corbin Bosch, slipping to 43 for two before the experienced Omphile Ramela displayed a no-nonsense approach to get the visitors back on track.

Ramela produced some sparkling strokeplay in his 87 off just 68 balls, before leg-spinner Von Berg once again showed his priceless wicket-taking ability in the middle overs as he claimed three for 60 in his 10 overs.

With Alfred Mothoa, buoyed by the support of his home crowd, chipping in with regular wickets as well, the required run-rate just kept rising for the Lions.

Ryan Rickelton (38), Nicky van den Bergh (50) and Nono Pongolo (32*) gave their all in trying to engineer an unlikely turnaround, but it was all in vain as Mothoa finished with an excellent four for 49 in 10 overs and spinner Gregory Mahlokwana impressed with two for 43 in 8.4 overs, the Lions being dismissed for 292 in the 48th over.