The Warriors must have fancied the prospect of upsetting the rampant Multiply Titans when their RamSlam T20 Challenge match became a rain-reduced 13-overs-a-side affair at Sahara Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Friday night, but in the end the defending champions were as ruthless as ever, hammering the visitors by 56 runs.
It was another bonus point win for the Titans and they now enjoy a 14-point lead at the top of the standings, with a home semi-final now guaranteed and first place on the final log just a couple of points away.
"I think that went perfectly," said stand-n captain Heinrich Klaasen."
"To get 172 in 13 overs is a special effort from the batters and to take nine wickets in 13 overs that's an incredible effort and if you weren't at the game you missed out an a fantastic display of cricket"
After a 90-minute rain delay, the Warriors won an important toss and sent the home side in to bat, but Dean Elgar was on fire from the outset for the Titans, blasting 44 off 23 balls, with four fours and three sixes, to put them on the right track for a big score. The left-hander was sent on his way in the sixth over by left-arm spinner Jon-Jon Smuts, and Henry Davids (23) was then dismissed in the next over by seamer Solo Nqweni, thanks to great work on the boundary by Colin Ackermann.
But AB de Villiers hit four balls on to the grass banks at Willowmoore Park as he played with all the verve of old in a sparkling 48 off 19 balls, adding 53 in three overs with Klaasen, who took over the captaincy from an ill Albie Morkel.
De Villiers fell at the end of the 10th over to Basheer Walters, but that brought a new destroyer to the crease in Farhaan Behardien. The 34-year-old Titans stalwart did what he always seems to do at the back-end of the innings – finish strongly – and his scintillating 36 not out off just 12 balls, with four sixes, was the perfect conclusion to a clinical batting display, the home side posting 172 for three in their 13 overs. Klaasen finished on 16 not out off nine balls.
The Warriors would have been thinking victory was still possible while skipper Smuts was at the crease, scoring a hard-hit 53 off 30 deliveries, before he was outfoxed by wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who had him well-stumped by Klaasen off a wide.
And from that moment on the wickets tumbled as the Warriors crashed from 92 for two after nine overs to 116 for nine at the end of their allotted 13 overs. Shamsi removed Colin Ackermann and Christiaan Jonker, both for seven, in the same over as Smuts, and Lungi Ngidi also claimed two wickets in the penultimate over, dismissing Lesiba Ngoepe (1) and Gihahn Cloete (0).
Shamsi finished with three for 22 in his maximum three overs, while Ngidi boasted amazing figures of two for eight in two overs, and Malusi Siboto also claimed a couple of scalps.
And even Aiden Markram, who is meant to be resting this week but did the 12thman duties after Davids was hit on the head while batting, managed to get in on the action as he took a superb boundary catch to dismiss Colin Ingram (13) off David Wiese.
The Titans now travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the VKB Knights in the double-header on Sunday and will have fast bowler Dale Steyn back in harness.
"We're going to approach tomorrow's match in the same way as all our previous games and try secure a bonus point win," added Klaasen.
"The team vibe is phenomenal and the belief in the team is exceptional. Every one is backing each other and taking responsibility for their own game which is very good.
"We're challenging each others positions in the team and that's why the squad is so strong because you can't slip up else you'll lose your spot - you want to do your best."
Multiply Titans team to face VKB Knights (from): Albie Morkel (c), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, Tony de Zorzi, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Chris Morris, Tabraiz Shamsi, Malusi Siboto, Dale Steyn.