Titans 101 for 3 (de Kock 39, de Villiers 27) beat Dolphins 100 (Vilas 21, Phehlukwayo 21, Morris 4-13) by seven wickets
Titans strolled to a third successive T20 crown and their fifth in the last ten years, thanks to a record-breaking performance in the field to restrict Dolphins to a paltry 100, which Titans chased down inside 12 overs. Chris Morris‘ 4 for 13 were the best figures in a franchise T20 final and a career-best for him while Dolphins total was the lowest in a South African franchise T20 final.
Morris was aided by strong performances from Lungi Ngidi, whose four overs yielded a return of 2 for 15, and Malusi Siboto, who took 2 for 10 in three overs as Dolphins completely lost their way. They failed to bat out their 20 overs, only Dane Vilas and Andile Phehlukwayo scored more than 20, and they had no partnerships over 30.
Perhaps it was the occasion that got to Dolphins – they were up against a star-studded Titans XI in front of an almost full home ground – but it may also have been a symptom of the tournament as a whole. Dolphins progressed to the final despite winning only three of their 10 group stage games. They had five washouts before their semi-final clash against Cobras was also abandoned, and the lack of game time showed.
By contrast, Titans reeled off six wins (with two washouts) in the group stage to secure a home semi-final before emptying their bench in the final week and losing twice. That included a defeat to Dolphins last Sunday but not much could be read into the result, because Titans fielded what was effectively a B team.
They beat Warriors in their semi-final and then swept Dolphins away, with an attack that was without Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel, who are focusing on long-format preparation. The premier pacemen were not needed, though, because the rest did the job just as well.
Both Dolphins openers, Morne van Wyk and Vaughn van Jaarsveld, top-edged Morris as they tried to play aggressively early on and landed their side in early trouble. Then Sarel Erwee, who scored a century on this ground in the opening round, was bowled by Ngidi to leave Dolphins 28 for 3 in the last over of the Powerplay.
Captain Khaya Zondo and Vilas tried to rebuild, and got to the halfway stage, but the run-rate stagnated and when Zondo tried to accelerate, he pulled Ngidi to deep backward square. Sibonelo Makhanya was run-out, Vilas inside-edged a Siboto slower ball onto his stumps, and Robbie Frylinck bottom-edged Siboto to de Kock, to leave Dolphins 67 for 7 in the 13th over and in danger of not reaching three figures. Keshav Maharaj and Phehlukwayo pushed them to 100 but Dolphins could get no more and were bowled out with nine balls to spare.
Consider that Titans also dropped two catches – Tabraiz Shamsi, who will finish as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament but was unsuccessful tonight, put one down in the deep, while Albie Morkel dropped a catch at slip – and Dolphins’ plight needs no more underlining. But there was one more problem. Imran Tahir was struck on the hand by Junior Dala while batting and could not take the field to help defend the indefensible.
The task awaiting Titans’ powerful line-up was simple and they approached it clinically. While newcomer Rivaldo Moonsamy was dismissed early, Quinton de Kock, who has had a tough campaign, found form with a quick 39 off 27 balls before being caught at backward point. AB de Villiers’ 27 off 13 balls took Titans to the brink before Aiden Markram and Farhaan Behardien finished off to bring an early end to a tournament that Titans had dominated from start to finish.