The HollywoodBets Dolphins broke the Titans’ record for the highest score in the competition’s history as they beat the WSB Cobras by 15 runs in the early game, but the home side still put themselves at the top of the log after the first round as they claimed the bonus point in beating the Lions by eight wickets.
The Titans breezed to the Duckworth/Lewis adjusted target of 135 in 15 overs with 22 balls to spare. Skipper Albie Morkel, with 41 not out off 16 balls, and the venerable AB de Villiers, with 50 not out off 19 deliveries, steered the defending champions to port with their blazing partnership of 85 in just 5.1 overs, hitting 10 sixes between them.
There was also no refuge for the Lions bowlers at the start of the innings as Quinton de Kock lashed 39 off 24 balls to give the Titans the briskest of starts.
The Highveld Lions had won the toss and elected to bat first, but were obviously under severe pressure to post a decent score – having seen the Dolphins smash 231 for two in the previous game – after Morkel grabbed two wickets in the first over and another in his second over.
Morkel began by claiming the key wicket of Rassie van der Dussen (0), who edged the second ball of the match down the leg side into the gloves of De Kock. Two balls later, Mangaliso Mosehle played a rash stroke over the off-side and was also dismissed for a duck, AB de Villiers taking a fine running catch. Morkel then dismissed young Marques Ackerman (10) in his next over, top-edging a pull to midwicket.
Lions opener Reeza Hendricks batted well for his 67 not out off 42 balls before a tropical storm interrupted play. But the Lions had little else to shout about, certainly nothing of the calibre of Durban batsmen Sarel Erwee (103* off 58) and Khaya Zondo (67* off 34).
Morkel took three for 12 in three overs in an outstanding all-round display, while Tabraiz Shamsi (3-0-23-0), Junior Dala (3-0-20-0) and Malusi Siboto (2-0-11-0) all did the business with the ball as well.