Decision making is normally brilliant in the offices of SuperSport Park, but out on the field at Kingsmead on Friday the Titans made a number of wrong calls that saw them lose their crucial T20 Challenge match against the Dolphins by seven runs as they were eliminated ahead of the playoffs.
Their mistakes started in selection as ace spinner Simon Harmer was left out of the side for seam-bowling all-rounder Grant Thomson. It left the Titans with just one specialist spinner, while the Dolphins’ pairing of Prenelan Subrayen and Keshav Maharaj thoroughly dominated the first half of the Titans innings, conceding just 35 runs in their first seven overs combined.
Thomson did not bowl and batted number seven, and although he hit the first ball of the final over for six, he had little impact on the game.
Off-spinner Harmer, who has an economy rate of just 5.13 in his 83 T20 games, may well have been able to deal with left-hander David Miller, who was the key batsman in the Dolphins innings, with his 49 not out off 35 balls lifting them to 151 for six.
Sending all-rounder Dayyaan Galiem in at number three did pay off for the Titans as he scored a plucky, unselfish 45 off 39 balls to lift a flagging run-rate that saw only 26 runs scored in the powerplay of six overs.
But when Dean Elgar was dismissed by the impressive Kerwin Mungroo (4-0-29-2), the Titans needed 101 from 60 balls and sent in Sibonelo Makhanya instead of Heinrich Klaasen and Chris Morris, who have shown their finishing ability at international level.
By the time Makhanya was also dismissed by Mungroo, for 15 off 13 balls, the Titans needed 55 from 26 deliveries, the required run-rate having increased to 13.09.
Morris came in next but failed, before Klaasen gave the Titans hope with a courageous 29 not out off 14 balls.
With 14 runs needed off three balls, the Titans were thrown a lifeline as Ottneil Baartman bowled a head-high delivery way down leg which was called no-ball and went for four byes.
That left the Titans needing nine off three balls, but Klaasen could only hammer the free hit straight to Miller at extra cover. Inexplicably he took the single, leaving tailender Lizaad Williams to score eight off the last two balls.
Williams failed to score as Baartman found the blockhole with the last two deliveries.
The Dolphins had won the toss and batted, and went on the attack from the outset as Sarel Erwee (33 from 20) led them to 62 for one after seven overs.
The Titans attack fought back well, Lungi Ngidi leading the way with an outstanding three for 20, but their batting has not been at its best in this tournament and their demise will see the Warriors face the Lions in Saturday’s playoff, which will decide who plays the Dolphins in Sunday’s final.