A total of 18 wickets fell on the opening day of the 4-Day Franchise Series season in Potchefstroom, but it was the innings of Kagiso Rapulana that helped the champion Lions take control of their clash with last term’s runners-up, the Cape Cobras, on Monday.
The right-hander withstood all that was going on around him with a defiant unbeaten 84 (130 balls, 10 fours) as the hosts posted what appeared to be a below-par 215 all out at Senwes Park.
But they then reduced the visitors to 106-8 at stumps, still a substantial 109 runs ahead after the opening day of action.
Most of the damage with the ball was done by the spinners – 13 of the wickets going down falling to the slow bowlers – with four each for George Linde (4-67) and Aaron Phangiso (4-28).
Jason Smith (54 not out off 114 balls, 6 fours) was the other fighter on a captivating day for the two standout teams from last year.
It was the Lions, though, who had looked in early trouble after winning the toss and batting in the North West.
Reeza Hendricks (30) helped them get to 88-3, but they were then blown away by the spinners and collapsed to 143-9.
Linde was the chief tormenter, with Matthew Kleinveldt (3-34) playing an excellent support role.
However, Rapulana defied the turn and, having finally found support in No 11 Beuran Hendricks (29), the pair added 72 for the final wicket to ensure the defending champions ended their innings in the ascendancy.
Former Lions bowler Nandre Burger (2-33), who was making his debut for the Cobras, managed to end the last-wicket stand with the hosts dismissed in 56.2 overs.
The reply was a woeful one for the Capetonians. Their openers Janneman (10) and Pieter Malan (2) were back in the pavilion inside the first 4.1 overs as they battled to acclimatise.
Beuran Hendricks (1-28) and Bjorn Fortuin (2-26) were the two to do the early damage with the wickets then continuing to tumble at the hands of Phangiso.
The away side fell to 74-7 at one stage, before Smith and Dane Paterson (5) managed to add the highest partnership of the innings – a stand of 32 – that ended on the stroke of stumps with their side still in a huge fix.
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