Aiden Markram hit the highest individual score in competition history as the Titans hammered the Highveld Lions by 169 runs in their Momentum One-Day Cup derby at the Wanderers on Friday night.
Markram belted 183 off 138 balls to steer the Titans to 415 for three after they had elected to bat first, beating the previous record for the highest total ever – the 400 for five they had made against the Cape Cobras at Newlands last month.
The previous highest individual score was the 181 Reeza Hendricks had scored when he was playing for the Knights against the Dolphins in Bloemfontein in 2014/15; it was a bad night in general for the Lions opener as he was dismissed first ball as the home team’s run-chase never really took off.
Markram and in-form fellow opener Henry Davids put on 222 off 203 balls for the first wicket, but they took their time at first against some threatening new-ball swing bowling from Beuran Hendricks, whose first five overs cost just eight runs.
But patience is rewarded even in limited-overs cricket and, after scoring just 41 in the 10 powerplay overs, Markram set the early pace, going to 50 for the first time in the Momentum One-Day Cup off 56 deliveries.
But Davids is a vastly experienced batsman and he weathered some early storms and struggles and was soon breezing past his partner with some impressive strokeplay.
He reached his century in the 30th over of the innings, with the Titans on 190 without loss, off 94 balls, needing just 32 deliveries for his second fifty. It was important during this stage that Markram, who is way more mature than his 22 years, shifted gear downwards and allowed Davids to prosper during his hot streak.
Markram performed his changing roles to perfection and would bat through to the penultimate over of the innings, but Beuran Hendricks claimed the important wicket of Davids for 128, off 108 balls, as he had him well-taken by cover-sweeper Rassie van der Dussen.
Heino Kuhn came in and ensured that the run-rate never dipped with an energetic 34 off 23 balls, but it was a low full toss from Wiaan Mulder that undid him in the 42nd over.
Markram ploughed on, reaching his maiden franchise 50-over century off 99 deliveries and ensured that he batted practically through the innings, while also showing that he has the ability to collect boundaries, scoring 18 fours and five sixes in all.
His magnificent, record-breaking innings eventually came to an end when he picked out long-off when trying to hit Dwaine Pretorius, who he punished as 80 runs came off the international all-rounder’s 10 overs, over the top.
But you cannot ask for a much better finisher of an innings than Farhaan Behardien and he ensured the Titans made the highest ever total with his tremendous 62 not out off just 31 balls, including 19 off the last over bowled by Beuran Hendricks, ruining the left-hander’s figures.
You always felt one of the Lions openers, Van der Dussen or Reeza Hendricks, needed to go big for the home side to have a chance, but Titans new-ball bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Eldred Hawken removed them both in their opening overs.
Van der Dussen hit the third ball of the innings from Ngidi square through the off side for four, but then had the misfortune to choose an even wider delivery to try and cut, only managing to edge a catch behind to wicketkeeper Kuhn.
Hawken, a useful swing bowler who deserves more opportunity, then struck with his first ball as Reeza Hendricks edged to first slip, a fine delivery angled in from back-of-a-length and then holding its line.
It ended a bad day for the Proteas hopeful, but wicketkeeper/batsman Mangaliso Mosehle was at least able to partly atone for dropping both Markram, before he had scored, and Davids on 36, by lashing a dazzling 74 off 44 balls.
Mosehle was making few friends when it came to the Titans bowlers, being particularly hard on wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who he swept for fours and sixes and hit back over his head for a magnificent, soaring six that brought up the Lions’ 100.
But Shamsi had the last laugh when he had Mosehle well-caught by Markram at deep square-leg.
Captain Dominic Hendricks went carefully to 21 when he was stumped by precision work by Kuhn off Shamsi, and Wihan Lubbe (31) and Wiaan Mulder (29) added 53 off 41 balls before being removed by seamers Hawken and David Wiese respectively.
It was clearly Markram’s day as he trapped the dangerous Pretorius lbw for nine, the big-hitting all-rounder swinging around a dipping full delivery.
Nono Pongolo impressed as he played some fine strokes for his 35 off 21 balls, but Shamsi wrapped up the tail as he finished with five for 74, conceding runs against some hit-and-hope slogging from the tail.
The Lions were all out for 246 in just 33.5 overs as the Titans completed their biggest ever victory in terms of runs in the competition.