• Bavuma, Ramela to the fore

    Temba Bavuma, Omphile Ramela, Andrew Birch and Basheeru-Deen Walters were the star performers on day one of this week’s round of key Sunfoil Series fixtures.

    Bavuma ton blunts Dolphins

    Temba Bavuma’s unbeaten century helped the Lions ward off a strong attack from the young Dolphins seamers on an entertaining first day of the crucial Sunfoil Series clash at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead.

    Bavuma’s unbeaten 124 allowed the Lions to recover from 126 for four to close the day on 280 for five, with Thami Tsolekile also weighing in with a handy 61. The century was a continuation of the 24-year-old’s excellent form since he returned to Sunfoil Series action last month – Bavuma now has two hundreds and two fifties in his last four games, further outlining his potential for the Test arena.

    The Dolphins went into the game in desperate need of a win to try and catch the league leaders, and made a strong start after winning the toss and electing to bowl first. Matthew Pillans caught and bowled Rassie van der Dussen in the fifth over of the day, and trapped Neil McKenzie (28) lbw in his second spell.

    The prolific Stephen Cook was taken care of by Calvin Savage, and Daryn Dupavillon ensured that the first half of the day truly belonged to the hosts when he dismissed Dominic Hendricks for 39. However, the tables turned when Bavuma was joined by his old Langa mate, Tsolekile, as the pair consolidated the innings before putting on 146 for the fifth wicket.

    The second new ball finally brought the Dolphins the breakthrough they required, as Dupavillon (two for 57) trapped Tsolekile in front, but Dwaine Pretorius hung in until bad light halted play nine overs early. With Bavuma still at the crease but the second new ball just six overs old, a key second morning lies in prospect.

    Rich Ramela form continues

    Omphile Ramela backed up his first franchise century with an immediate second as the Cape Cobras thwarted the Titans’ plans on the opening day of their Sunfoil Series fixture at Willowmoore Park.

    Proving just how valuable his breakthrough ton against the Warriors was last week, Ramela scored an even brighter 125 not out as the Cobras put up 278 for two after being inserted by the Titans. While last week’s century was at times a painstaking affair, scored at a strike rate that only touched 40 towards the end, on Thursday Ramela showed improved confidence and urgency as he made his runs from 209 deliveries.

    That helped the Cobras to make up for some of the time that was lost to bad light, which ended the day with only 75 overs bowled, but also made their decision to go into the game a batsman light look like a bold but justifiable one. Andrew Puttick was the other major contributor to the Cobras, stroking 74 and sharing a healthy stand with Ramela to make up for the early disappointment of seeing Stiaan van Zyl retire hurt after a breezy 24.

    Puttick and Ramela left the Titans to question their decision at the toss as they carried the Cobras total to 179 before David Wiese bowled the senior batsman. Ramela was particularly positive either side of tea, scoring the majority of the 86 runs that he added with Justin Ontong (29), and even taking 14 from one Henry Davids over. Ontong was caught behind off the bowling of Rowan Richards, but Dane Vilas moved to 10 not out before bad light stopped play with the Cobras in a dominant position.

    Birch shines at gloomy Buffalo Park

    Andrew Birch and Basheeru-Deen Walters produced Sunfoil Series performances that were able to shine through the clouds and give the Warriors a productive first day against the Knights at a rainy Buffalo Park.

    The entire first session of the match was lost to the weather, but Walters and Birch picked up seven wickets between them to reduce the Knights to 183 for seven in the 66 overs that were possible. Their contributions ensured that the Knights were never able to build a partnership that could change the momentum on the opening day, even as Rudi Second provided some stability with his unbeaten 61.

    In spite of the late start, the Knights elected to bat first after winning the toss, only to lose four wickets in the session before tea. Walters bowled Gihahn Cloete in the fourth over and had Letlotlo Sesele caught in the eighth, before Reeza Hendricks was caught behind off Birch in the ninth to leave the visitors reeling on 21 for three.

    The returning Pite von Biljon led a mini-recovery with Second as he scored 28, only to be bowled by Sisanda Magala, before Michael Erlank and Second took the Knights to tea on 91 for four. The pair were just beginning to look comfortable with the situation after the break when Simon Harmer found a chink in Erlank’s armour to dismiss the rookie batsman for 24.

    Another mini-recovery saw Werner Coetsee join the immovable Second at the crease, but once again the pair were separated just as the Knights were finding a way back into the innings. This time Walters (three for 46) struck to remove Coetsee for 36 and end the 63-run stand for the sixth wicket, and that incision was followed by Birch (two for 30) bowling debutant allrounder Bokang Mosena three overs later.

    Just five more deliveries were possible in the day, which Second saw off successfully. He will start again on the second morning, and will have Dillon du Preez for company.

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