The Titans were reduced to 90/4 in chasing 142 to win in the T20 Challenge, and they needed another 52 off 32 balls at Boland Park in Paarl.
But captain Albie Morkel (34 not out), supported by Farhaan Behardien (22 not out), hit some lusty blows in the last few overs for an unbroken partnership of 52 to take their team over the line by six wickets with seven balls to spare.
It was a new record for the ground as no team has chased more than 140 batting second in the T20 Challenge.
The Titans made a reasonable start to reach their 50 off 9.1 overs, but the home team showed much greater hunger in the field than what they did last Saturday in the tournament opener against the Knights at the Wanderers, where they conceded 184.
Dane Paterson made the perfect start with the ball when he yorked Henry Davids first-ball, which was followed by Rory Kleinveldt taking a superb catch off his own bowling to get rid of Heino Kuhn for 11.
Captain Justin Ontong marshalled his bowling attack superbly as he wasn’t scared to take the pace off the ball. After opening bursts from Paterson and Kleinveldt, Kieron Pollard, George Linde, Jason Smith and new spinner Nkulueko Serame all took turns to bowl the odd over and make life difficult for Titans pair Heinrich Klaasen and Qaasim Adams during the middle stages of the innings.
The required run-rate kept rising, and once it got to above eight, the pressure told as Adams went for a big hit off Jason Smith and was undone by a slower ball that held up in the surface. Keegan Petersen took a simple catch as the ball went high into the air to dismiss Adams for 17 off 29 balls.
It was up to Proteas limited-overs batsman Behardien to try and break the shackles along with opener Klaasen, and they put on 24 for the fourth wicket. But Klaasen was run out by Ontong for 46 off 39 balls after the batsmen nearly collided, which left the Titans on 90/4 and needing 52 to win off 32 deliveries.
Titans skipper Morkel joined Behardien in what was coach Mark Boucher’s last card to play as they needed 50 off the last five overs for victory. They got it down to 27 to win off the last three with a mixture of clean hitting and some wayward bowling by the Cobras.
But then with Morkel dominant, he offered a simple catch to substitute fielder Zubayr Hamza on the midwicket boundary off Pollard, but the Cobras youngster let the ball slip through his hands to go for four.
It was that kind of night for Paul Adams’ team, and it ended when Paterson bowled a wide to hand the Titans a six-wicket victory with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, Pollard’s broad bat in the final over of the Cobras innings proved crucial as they scored 23 off five balls to go past the 140-run mark.
Pollard struck 32 not out off 19 balls (2x6), but what was even more impressive was how the West Indian star manoeuvred the ball around the field as boundaries were hard to come by.
Pollard ran several twos to counter the deep-lying Titans fielders, which was in sharp contrast to the 84-run partnership between Cebo Tshiki and Smith. The Cobras duo battled to adapt to the sluggish track, often swinging hard and missing the ball completely, or finding the inside edge.
Smith in particular couldn’t get the ball off the square, but found his range towards the end of his knock to contribute 38 off 41 balls (3x4), while Tshiki made better contact for a career-best 47 off 43 (3x4, 1x6).
Their stand was vital after Richard Levi again fell cheaply as he edged David Wiese behind for just five.
The Cobras lost their way a bit in the closing overs as George Linde, Ontong and Kleinveldt scored 10 runs between them, but fortunately for Adams’ team, Pollard was on strike for the last five balls bowled by Malusi Siboto.
Junior Dala (2/17) and Lungi Ngidi (2/21) were the pick of the Titans bowlers.
Original source: Titans heap more misery on luckless Cobras