Titans 145 for 2 (Markram 56*, de Villiers 54*) beat Warriors 143 (Ackermann 48, Shamsi 4-32) by eight wickets
Tabraiz Shamsi produced his best performance of the tournament so far to bowl Titans’ into the Ram Slam final, which they will host at SuperSport Park. Titans beat Warriors comprehensively by eight wickets to re-affirm their dominance in the tournament, which began with six victories in their first eight matches (with two wash-outs) but started to wane when they emptied their bench in the final week of the league stage before coming full circle on Wednesday night.
Titans held the upper hand despite going into the knockout without Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel and lost senior batsman Henry Davids to injury four minutes before toss. Their attack dismissed Warriors for a below-par score of 143 before AB de Villiers and Aiden Markram helped themselves to a half-century apiece to wipe out the target inside 16 overs.
Warriors were not able to give coach Malibongwe Maketa, who will now join the national team as Ottis Gibson’s assistant, a festive farewell, and could not repeat their heroics of last season, when they reached the final. They were on the back foot early, at 17 for 2 after two overs, but then rallied through Colin Ingram and Colin Ackermann, before Shamsi dismantled them, and de Villiers and Markram finished off the chase.
Wayne Parnell, on loan from Cobras, returned to Warriors’ top two but was bowled by Albie Morkel for 4. Jon-Jon Smuts followed in the next over, caught by Morkel at cover point off Lungi Ngidi. Ingram and Ackermann shared a third-wicket stand of 63 but were separated in the 10th over when Markram had Ingram caught at point, again by Morkel.
Enter Shamsi, who took two wickets each in his third and fourth overs. Though he was the one holding an imaginary phone to his ear, it was Warriors who should have called for help. Shamsi later explained his signature celebration as a “bit of fun because sometimes they phone the third umpire to check.”
The only thing Shamsi needs to check is how far he is ahead of the chasing pack in the wicket-takers’ list. He has 16 scalps at 13.68, four more than his nearest challenger, Dane Paterson.
Warriors did not last their full 20 overs and were dismissed with 11 balls remaining in their innings. They would have known the total was far from enough but had some early hope when Quinton de Kock’s lean run continued and Davids’ replacement, Heinrich Klaasen, managed 24. Titans were 44 for 2 after five overs but there was no stopping them after that. De Villiers and Markram put on an unbeaten 101-run stand and treated the sizeable crowd to some sensational shots to win with 4.4 overs to spare.
The final, on December 16, will be played between Titans and the winner of the Dolphins versus Cape Cobras semi-final, to be held on Thursday.