In the context of thrilling T20 finals it was a disappointment, but for the Titans it was the sheer joy of ruthlessly-efficient accomplishment as they strolled to a hat-trick of RamSlam T20 Challenge titles on Saturday night with a thumping seven-wicket win, with 53 balls to spare, over the Dolphins in Centurion.
Their victory was set up by a magnificent display in the field, Chris Morris leading the attack with four for 13, the best ever figures in a franchise T20 final, as the Dolphins were shot out for just 100, the lowest ever total in a final.
Against a batting line-up as powerful as the Titans, it was never going to be enough and the home side knocked off their target of 101 in just 11.1 overs, with Quinton de Kock leading the way with 39 off 27 balls and AB de Villiers blazing a cameo of 27 off 13 deliveries.
The Titans had won the toss and sent the Dolphins in to bat, and the visitors started well enough, the opening batsmen, Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Morne van Wyk, both collecting a boundary in the opening over bowled by Albie Morkel.
But the introduction of Morris for the next over from the West Lane End signalled the start of the Titans’ dominance.
Van Wyk (6) skied the second ball bowled by the all-rounder high over the point region, Farhaan Behardien back-pedalling and then taking the trickiest of catches over his shoulder.
Van Jaarsveld fell in Morris’s next over, the left-hander being bogged down with 14 off 16 balls, driving on the up and being caught at deep mid-on.
The Dolphins were 25 for two and being squeezed relentlessly by aggressive, accurate bowling and ground fielding that was also of the highest order. The development of any partnership was painstaking for the visitors and quickly nipped in the bud.
So efficient were the Titans that the biggest partnership of the innings was the 26 Dane Vilas (21) and Khaya Zondo (7) shared for the fourth wicket.
Ngidi returned to add the wicket of Dolphins captain Zondo to his earlier dismissal of Sarel Erwee (3), finishing with outstanding figures of two for 15 in his four overs, while Malusi Siboto (3-1-10-2), so obviously targeted by the Warriors in the semi-final, bounced back to get rid of the Dolphins’ two most dangerous hitters – Vilas (21) and Robbie Frylinck (0) – in the course of producing a double-wicket maiden in the 13th over.
At 67 for seven, the Dolphins were obviously not going to post anything substantial and Junior Dala (3-0-21-1) and the brilliant Morris wrapped up the innings.
De Kock showed the fluency that had eluded him so far in the campaign, collecting four fours and two sixes as he gave the Titans a brisk start, despite the early loss of Rivaldo Moonsamy (7), who fell to the wiles of Frylinck.
The part-time off-spin of Zondo accounted for De Kock, but the capacity crowd was delighted to see the skills of De Villiers, who managed to clear the boundary three times in a dozen balls, before Aiden Markram (18*) and Behardien (4*) finished the job.