HENRY DAVIDS led The Unlimited Titans from the front to secure an eight-wicket victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad at Ranchi on Saturday to keep their destiny very much in their own hands at the Champions League T20 competition.
They have now won two out of three matches and have a positive net run rate to go with it.
Although Davids was named Man of the Match for his cracking innings of 64 off 42 balls (four sixes and seven fours) backed up by a tidy spell of spin bowling that earned him figures of 1/18 in his four overs, this was very much a team performance and was undoubtedly the best by a South African franchise against Indian Premier League opposition on the Indian sub-continent since the inception of this competition.
The Sunrisers were only in the game for the first six overs when India’s latest golden cricketer, Shikhar Dhawan, and Parthiv Patel helped themselves to 60 runs in the six power play overs.
There was also a brief flurry of resistance when Dale Steyn hit 20 (two sixes and two fours) in the final over of their innings but the rest of the game belonged to the Titans who won the match with more than three overs to spare to do their net run rate a power of good. They went into the match with a minus rate of 0.8 and finished with a positive one of 0.39.
In this tightly contested Group B, net run rate could well come into the equation in deciding which teams qualify for the semi-finals.
Davids has been an instant success in this competition over the last two years where he has had a phenomenal batting average in excess of 50 with a strike rate well into three figures. He has made two half-centuries in this year’s competition – it could well have been three out of three but for a run out against the Brisbane Heat – and is the leading contender for the Golden Bat which goes to the player with the highest runs aggregate. Today’s innings took him past 150.
Whereas the Titans bowlers had an off-day in the first match and the batsmen had followed suit in the second match, this was the game where all their disciplines came together and it suggests that they are running into form with perfect timing at the business end of the competition.
David Wiese (3/17 including 13 dot balls) and Jacques Rudolph (49 not out off 42 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes) also made sizeable contributions.
Had it not been for Davids’ all-round form, Wiese could easily have been named Man of the Match as he stopped the IPL team in its track when he dismissed the two opening batsmen who had been threatening to run away with the game. The result was that, after scoring 60 runs in the first six overs with 9 fours and 3 sixes, they were only able to 62 in the next 10 overs for the loss of five wickets while adding only one boundary to their tally.
The difference when the Titans batted was that they did not allow any of the opposing bowlers to settle, regularly scoring at least one boundary to the over.
The Titans play their final Group B match against Trinidad & Tobago on Monday.