Titans continue invincible form
The Nashua Titans carried their invincible limited-overs form into the Standard Bank Pro20 when they hammered the Chevrolet Warriors by 31 runs at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Friday.
Young Roelof van der Merwe was once again the most potent weapon in the Titans' armoury as he motored to a top-class 66 off just 30 balls and then claimed three wickets and two fine outfield catches.
The Warriors were chasing 189 for victory and it was leg-spinner Faf du Plessis who wounded their hopes most severely by taking two wickets in two balls to end his first over.
He had Zander de Bruyn caught in the covers by Van der Merwe and then trapped Johan Botha so plumb leg-before he actually walked!
Du Plessis' hat-trick ball so nearly sneaked through Davey Jacobs' defences, but the batsman just managed to get the edge of his bat to it.
Justin Kreusch had given the Warriors an aggressive start with three fours off Andre Nel's first three balls, which caused the disgruntled fast bowler to lose his poise, particularly since the first boundary came from a dropped catch by David Wiese on the third man boundary.
It was Albie Morkel who first broke through for the Titans, a slower ball forcing Kreusch (19) to send a drive motoring straight to Nel at deep mid-on.
Morkel also inflicted a major wound by having Arno Jacobs (10) well caught by wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn (he dived some distance) and he finished with two for 21 in three overs.
Zander de Bruyn (16) only played a couple of shots in anger before he fell to Du Plessis and the Warriors' coke had well and truly gone flat when Craig Thyssen (1) skied Van der Merwe to Wiese on the cover boundary.
Davey Jacobs fought a lone battle as he scored 33 off 24 balls, before he fell in the 16th over, missing a big lofted drive off Van der Merwe.
Juan Theron finished on 24 not out, but by then it was all rather pointless.
Van der Merwe continues to produce amazing feats in the pressure of one-day cricket, taking three for 41, a heavy toll being taken on his last two overs, but it was Du Plessis' three for 24 that ultimately meant the Warriors were out of the game.
He had also batted neatly in scoring 29 off 21 balls after Van der Merwe had put the Titans in charge with his innings.
The 23-year-old once again played above his tender years as he hoisted the Nashua Titans to a challenging 188 for five.
Making life hell for the Warrriors seamers up front, Van der Merwer slammed a scintillating 10 fours and two sixes, confirming his ability as a top-class pinch-hitter.
Van der Merwe eventually fell when international spinner Botha came on, kept his cool under fire, and bowled the Waterkloof product with a quicker, straighter delivery.
Van der Merwe had come to the crease at the end of the first over, Heino Kuhn (2) failing to make his ground after Gulam Bodi (20) turned down a crazy request for a single.
The right-hander dominated from the outset, peppering the leg-side boundary in particular.
Other useful contributions would come from Albie Morkel (38 off 25), Du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien (22 not out off 10 balls).
All the Warriors bowlers, barring Botha, took punishment. The off-spinner took one for 19 in his four overs and looked in a class of his own.