South Africa’s Titans won the opening match of the Champions League T20, comfortably beating Western Australia’s Perth Scorchers by 39 runs at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
The Scorchers began the day by leaving out English overseas player Paul Collingwood in favour of playing an extra bowler, but won what was presumed to be an important toss and inserted the home side. Unfortunately for their captain Marcus North, his opening bowlers didn’t quite hit the right lengths and were expensive, allowing Titans’ opening pair of Jacques Rudolph and Henry Davids a flying start.
Rudolph dispatched slow left-armer Michael Beer for six over mid-wicket off the fourth ball of the opening over and the spin experiment was quietly shelved. However, his replacements Nathan Rimmington, Joe Mennie and Mitchell Marsh weren’t much better and allowed Titans to reach a healthy 50 without loss at the end of the powerplay.
Ben Edmondson’s introduction into the attack to bowl the eighth over was greeted with delight by Davids, who deposited him over the boundary twice in his opening over, which went for 18 runs. The 32 year-old reached his half-century not long afterwards off the same bowler, having taken just 36 balls, with Rudolph following suit two balls later, having also used up 36 balls.
At this stage, Perth were facing a target in the region of 200, but Beer dismissed Davids in the 13th over and Brad Hogg bowled tidily to peg things back. Hogg mixed up his deliveries well and conceded just 26 runs from his four overs, with Titans clearly having identified him as their major threat.
Rimmington was then re-introduced into the attack and bowled two superb death overs which went for a combined total of just five runs, as well as removing Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese with consecutive deliveries, and Titans rather limped to the end of their innings – finally closing on 163 for four, having taken just 58 runs from the final eight overs.
If Perth felt that they were in the ascendancy at the break , then it didn’t take too long for perceptions to change, as the Titans seam bowlers made it look a completely different pitch to the one on which Perth’s seamer had bowled so indifferently just a couple of hours previously.
Following the now obligatory over of spin to open the innings, this time from Eden Links, and a sighter for death specialist Alfonso Thomas, Ethy Mbhalati and CJ de Villiers were introduced with almost immediate results. Mbhalati troubled Shaun Marsh in his first over, while de Villiers had him caught at slip in his first, and followed that up with the prized wicket of Perth skipper Marcus North two balls later to a delivery which bounced and seamed back into the left-hander, who could only glove it onto his stumps.
De Villiers, who like Mbhalati and unlike the Perth bowlers, is tall, and bares and passing resemblance to Morne Morkel then dropped a difficult caught and bowled chance in the sixth over, but it wasn’t to prove too costly.
Perth ended their powerplay on 34 for two and never got back into the match. Herschelle Gibbs, who had hit a couple of nice strokes was next to perish, caught behind off Alfonso Thomas for 19 off 19 balls, while Simon Katich followed in the 12th over for 23 off 28 balls, brilliantly caught and bowled by Eden Links, who had dropped the same batsman at cover in the previous over off a furious Roelof van der Merwe.
Luke Ronchi was bowled by another of the Titans tall seamers, David Wiese for nine, with Rimmington making only three before holing out to Jacques Rudolph in the deep. Mitchell Marsh then gave the Perth dugout something to shout about with a handsome six over long-on which registered at 116 metres and must be amongst the biggest ever hit. He proceeded to hit a further three boundaries from that same over to keep up with the asking rate which was now around 16 an over, but his was a lone hand.
Marsh ended not out on 52 off 41 balls, having hit six boundaries, easily more than the rest of his team put together and Perth closed their innings on 124 for seven.
Titans captain Martin van Jaarsveld paid tribute to the home crowd, which packed the grassy banks and must have filled around 70 per cent of the overall stadium on this early spring South African Saturday afternoon, saying, "I thought we lost a bit of momentum towards the end of the innings, credit to them they bowled really well. CJ de Villiers was fantastic, Thomas as well. A great crowd like this is like our 12th man, I thought we played the conditions today."
The next match is an all Indian affair between Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knights Riders and begins shortly.
© Cricket World 2012
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