Batsmen ruled day one of the second-last round of 4-Day Franchise Series fixtures, with the Cape Cobras trying desperately to keep ahead of the Lions on the log table, while the Warriors are giving their all to keep within striking distance of both teams.
Titans vs Cape Cobras
Leus du Plooy was closing in on a debut century as the Titans fought their way to 272 for nine on the opening day of their 4-Day Franchise Series encounter against the log-leading Cape Cobras in Oudtshoorn on Monday.
The 24-year-old, who previously represented the Knights, was still batting at the close on an unbeaten 94 (241 balls, 12×4, 1×6), although he was treading a fine line in terms of three figures, with only Alfred Mothoa (1 off 12 balls) left for company.
Du Plooy’s performance lit up an otherwise difficult day for the champions as their struggles from recent games again came back to haunt them. Spin proved to be their main tormentor at the Recreation Ground, where the slow bowlers shared eight of the wickets to fall.
The key man was once again Dane Piedt, the competition’s leading wicket-taker, after he claimed an impressive five for 73 in 39 incredible overs, 10 of which were maidens. There were also three wickets for 87 from George Linde in his 36-over contribution as the title-chasing home side sent down 103 overs on day one.
They did well for most of the day by chipping away regularly at the visiting batsmen. After winning the toss, the Titans made a relatively good start by reaching 72 for one, thanks to Andrea Agathangelou (29) and Victor Mahlangu (23). But three quick wickets for Linde and one from Piedt – who now has 44 for the season – suddenly left the away side on 74 for four.
Henry Davids (47) helped Du Plooy add 84 for the fifth wicket to stop the rot, with another 78 coming for the sixth wicket between the latter and Shaun von Berg (30).
At 236 for five, the Titans were still nicely placed. However, the spinners again strangled them, leaving Du Plooy fighting a lone battle at the close.
Titans 272-9 (JL du Plooy 94 not out, H Davids 47, S von Berg 30, AP Agathangelou 29, VB Mahlangu 23; DL Piedt 5-73, GF Linde 3-87)
Cape Cobras Still to bat
Titans won the toss and elected to bat
Knights vs Lions
Keegan Petersen continued his rich run of form by top-scoring for the Knights as they ended the opening day of their 4-Day encounter against the Highveld Lions in a solid position at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Monday.
The right-hander, who has made two big tons and an unbeaten half-century in his last four innings, followed that up with 71 (138 balls, 11×4) to help the hosts reach stumps on 312 for six. There was also another impressive showing by young Raynard van Tonder, the former South Africa U19 captain striking 70 (142 balls, 9×4) for his fourth half-century in just his fourth game since debuting in November.
The Lions, who headed into the penultimate round of games just one-and-a-half points behind leaders the Cape Cobras, had Bjorn Fortuin to thank for helping them chip away after he claimed four for 54. However, he and his teammates could not find a way past Andries Gous (29) and Romano Terblanche (30), allowing the Knights to hit back and end the day strongly.
The Central franchise had won the toss and elected to bat first at the start, with Grant Mokoena (46) giving them an excellent early platform alongside Van Tonder. They put on 86 for the first wicket, which was followed by 66 between the latter and Petersen, who continued to bat well until the hosts had progressed to 233 for three.
Three quick wickets then left them in a bit of a fix on 253 for six, but an unbroken 59 between Gous and Terblanche for the seventh wicket ensured they went to stumps in a comfortable position.
Knights 312-6 (KD Petersen 71, R van Tonder 70, TG Mokoena 46, GJ Snyman 33, RK Terblanche 30 not out, AGS Gous 29 not out, PJ van Biljon 21; BC Fortuin 4-54, MP Siboto 2-56)
Lions Still to bat
Knights won the toss and elected to bat
Warriors vs Dolphins
Centuries by Eddie Moore and Yaseen Vallie helped the Warriors dominate the opening day of their 4-Day encounter against the Dolphins in East London on Monday. The pair shared in a fixture record 216-run second-wicket partnership as the hosts reached stumps at Buffalo Park on a commanding 325 for five.
It completed a wonderful first day for the in-form third-placed Eastern Cape franchise, who have to win the game to have a chance of winning the first-class title, although they are only third favourites behind the top two, the Cape Cobras and Highveld Lions.
The Warriors did not have the best of starts to the game after they won the toss and opted to bat first. Gihahn Cloete was bowled for a third-ball duck by Ethan Bosch (1-59), leaving them in some early trouble. But Moore and Vallie combined for an excellent stand that saw the former strike 102 (204 balls, 10 fours, 4 sixes) for his third century of the season and 10th overall.
The latter, meanwhile, went on to top-score with 110 (177 balls, 13×4, 1×6) – his 13th career ton and first of 2018-19. Their partnership also surpassed the previous best in the fixture for both sides, before it was eventually broken by Keith Dudgeon (2-62).
The seamer nabbed both men within the space of eight deliveries, and when Prenelan Subrayen (1-83) nipped out Jon-Jon Smuts for 10, there was a period of opportunity for the Dolphins at 235 for four. However, a 77-run fifth-wicket stand between Lesiba Ngoepe (39) and Matthew Breetzke (45 not out) followed to stretch the game away from the Dolphins.
They were given hope, however, which came in the third last over of the day as the former was run-out by Bosch and Grant Roelofsen, but Breetzke was still there and looking to build on day two.
Warriors 325-5 (EM Moore 102, MY Vallie 110, MP Breetzke 45 not out, LC Ngoepe 39; KJ Dudgeon 2-62 2, E Bosch 1-59, P Subrayen 1-83)
Dolphins Still to bat
Warriors won the toss and elected to bat
Photo: Cricket South Africa