Russell cameo sets Knights to clinical win over Titans

2014-11-08 00:00

WEST Indian Andre Russell’s 21-ball attack of 48 inspired the Knights to a clinical 35-run victory over the Titans in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge encounter at SuperSport Park in Centurion last night.

The Knights, who last week swept aside the Warriors in Johannesburg, were propelled to an imposing total of 179 for seven thanks to Russell’s fireworks, although Darren Sammy (3-0-21-3) was able to stem the flow late on as he produced three wickets in four balls during the 18th over to keep the visitors in check.

However, the Titans struggled to keep pace with the required run rate almost from the get-go, and despite a valiant undefeated 65 from opener Dean Elgar, the hosts always appeared likely to fall short in the face of some disciplined Knights bowling, and could only manage 144 for five in reply.

The second successive triumph for Sarel Cilliers’ men sees them join the Highveld Lions and the Cape Cobras at the summit of the table on nine points, while the Titans are still to record their first win of the campaign, and sit in fifth place above the hapless Warriors only on net run rate.

The late flurry of wickets in the Knights’ innings had given the home crowd some hope, as the final total appeared to be little more than par on a good batting pitch. And when Henry Davids (29) blasted Malusi Siboto (4-0-27-1) for two sixes in the fourth over, the run chase had garnered some useful momentum.

But Russell, spurred on by his display with the bat, effected the crucial breakthrough two overs later as he cleaned up the stumps of the Titans’ skipper. Roelof van der Merwe (1) then skied his second delivery into the hands of Dillon du Preez, and with that the home side were reduced to 42 for two.

Elgar and Theunis de Bruyn (18) offered some resistance, but the boundaries were occasional rather than regular, and the required rate continued to escalate. The pressure eventually told, as De Bruyn holed out to Werner Coetsee to tighten the Knights’ grip on the contest.

It meant Sammy (23) joined Elgar with 83 required from 40 balls, but, other than one lusty blow over the long-on boundary, the big man was generally unable to find the middle of the bat in a frustrating knock. Elgar began to come into his own though, bringing up his half century from 50 balls with a delightful pull for four in the 16th over.

However, keeper Rudi Second snared a fine catch off the edge of Sammy, and any hopes of a Titans win all but went with him. The remaining two overs served merely to determine whether the Knights would pull off an unlikely bonus-point win. A single off the penultimate delivery from Elgar ended such hopes, but the Bloemfontein-based outfit rightly celebrated an impressive victory, with special praise reserved for the talismanic Russell.

Earlier the Knights, having been sent in to bat by Davids, saw openers Rudi Second (44) and Gerhardt Abrahams (41) lay a wonderful foundation for their innings, with the former belting Van der Merwe (4-0-38-1) for back-to-back boundaries in the second over. Second was then well caught at the conclusion of the first powerplay, but with 59 on the board, the log leaders were well placed.

New-man Tumelo Bodibe (26) did a fine job of continuing his team’s progress; the highlight an almighty six off Sammy during the 11th over. He was to perish at the end of the 13th over with the score on 108, but his departure merely set the stage for Russell, whose exhibition commenced with a four and a six within the first four deliveries he faced.

The right hander smashed eight boundaries and two massive sixes.

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