The top two teams in the 4-Day Franchise Series – the Cape Cobras and the Highveld Lions – played themselves into strong positions as both look to push for a vital win in the second-last round of league fixtures.
Titans vs Cape Cobras
Half-centuries by Pieter Malan and Simon Khomari put the Cobras in a commanding position at the halfway stage of their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the Titans in Oudtshoorn. The pair shared an opening stand of 135 as the hosts replied to the visitors’ 275 by going to stumps on 299 for five.
Malan, one of the most consistent batsmen in South African first-class cricket over the past two seasons, made 95 (181 balls, 12 fours) and was still unbeaten – although he had to retire hurt due to severe cramp at the Recreation Ground.
Khomari, meanwhile, recorded a career-best 77 (90 balls, 14×4), beating his previous highest score of 70 against the Warriors at Paarl in 2015-16.
Late wickets did jolt the log-leaders, although they still had five wickets in the bag heading into day three. Earlier there was heartbreak for Leus du Plooy as he fell three short of a century when he was the last man standing for the Titans, unbeaten on 97 (257 balls, 12×4, 1×6).
Just three runs were added to the away side’s 272 for nine, with Alfred Mothoa (1) dismissed by Dane Piedt, who completed an excellent return of six for 75 in 41.2 overs. The Malan-Khomari stand then provided an excellent backbone for the reply, although it ended when Shaun von Berg (1-101) accounted for the latter.
Zubayr Hamza (28) managed to add 71 for the second wicket before he was removed by Du Plooy (1-48). David Bedingham (41) and Kyle Verreynne (17) then took the score to 265 for two, thanks to another half-century partnership that yielded 59.
The home side lost their way somewhat from there, thanks to a double strike by Matthew Arnold (2-42) and one from Mothoa (1-34), but with five wickets still standing, the Cobras held the advantage through a 24-run lead.
Titans 275 (JL du Plooy 97 not out, H Davids 47, S von Berg 30, AP Agathangelou 29, VB Mahlangu 23; DL Piedt 6-75, GF Linde 3-88)
Cape Cobras 299-5 (PJ Malan 95 ret hurt, SM Khomari 77, DG Bedingham 41, Zubayr Hamza 28, GF Linde 21; JL du Plooy 1-48, S von Berg 1-101, M Arnold 2-42, SA Mothoa 1-34)
Cape Cobras lead by 24 runs with 5 second-innings wickets in hand
Knights vs Lions
A maiden franchise century by Kagiso Rapulana played a key role as the Highveld Lions clawed their way back on the second day of their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
There was also an outstanding career-best return from Bjorn Fortuin, whose seven for 70 in 30.3 overs helped bowl out the hosts for 357. Right-hander Rapulana then hit an unbeaten 114 (144 balls, 13×4) to help the visitors reach stumps on 279 for five – a deficit of 78.
It was a good fightback from the title-chasing Lions after they had slumped to 185 for five, and they will certainly be pleased with the grit shown by their star batsman. The earlier work was done by Fortuin as he completed his 3rd career five-for.
The Knights resumed day two on 312 for six, and superb bowling by the spinner ensured that just 45 runs were produced by the final four wickets. After Nandre Burger (1-75) nipped out Andries Gous for 45, Fortuin claimed the last three wickets to send the hosts packing in 113.3 overs.
Stephen Cook (49) and Dominic Hendricks (18) put on 54 for the first wicket to give their side a solid grounding, before three quick wickets left them on 82 for three.
A 95-run stand between Rapulana and Temba Bavuma (30) helped get the Lions back on the road, before Patrick Kruger (2-37) threatened to derail the Johannesburg-based side.
But Rapulana’s attacking third career century – a best in four-day cricket, surpassing the 75 he made against the Titans last weekend – was the big difference. He added an unbroken 94 with Wiaan Mulder (41 not out) for the sixth wicket, a partnership that kept their side well in the game at the Mangaung Oval.
Knights 357 (KD Petersen 71, R van Tonder 70, TG Mokoena 46, GJ Snyman 33, RK Terblanche 37, AGS Gous 45, PJ van Biljon 21; BC Fortuin 7-70, MP Siboto 2-62)
Lions 279-5 (K Rapulana 114 not out, SC Cook 49, PWA Mulder 41 not out, T Bavuma 30; PE Kruger 2-37, CA Dry 1-52, RK Terblanche 1-44, T Ntuli 1-63)
Lions trail by 78 runs with 5 second-innings wickets in hand
Warriors vs Dolphins
Thomas Kaber grabbed three wickets to help the Warriors seize the advantage after two days of their clash against the Dolphins in East London. There was also another telling display by young Sinethemba Qeshile with the bat, after his brisk half-century earlier in the day allowed the hosts to declare their first innings on 436 for seven at Buffalo Park.
Spinner Kaber grabbed three for 94 as the visitors replied with 269 for seven – still trailing by a massive 167. Top-scorers for the Dolphins were Marques Ackerman with 84 (129 balls, 14×4) and Sarel Erwee with 66 (98 balls, 7×4, 1×6).
However, they were both gone by the close as the Eastern Cape franchise pressed on in search of a vital win that could bring them right back into the title race.
They had started the day on 325 for five with two youngsters in Qeshile and Matthew Breetzke together. The latter completed his maiden four-day 50 before falling not long after the start for a solid 58 (112 balls, 9×4).
Teenager Qeshile then added 92 for the seventh wicket with Sisanda Magala (26 not out), before he was last man out for an impressive 75 off 87 balls (11×4). This was his seventh half-century in 10 games for the Warriors, his dismissal prompting the declaration.
Glenton Stuurman (2-29) dismissed Michael Erlank (8) early in the Dolphins’ innings, with Erwee and Ackerman putting together 120 for the second wicket to get their side back on track.
However, Kaber ripped through the middle order, before late wickets by Basheer Walters (1-51) and Jon-Jon Smuts (1-32) completed a perfect day for the hosts.
Warriors 436-7 (EM Moore 102, MY Vallie 110, S Qeshile 75, MP Breetzke 58, LC Ngoepe 39, SSB Magala 26 not out; E Bosch 2-74, KJ Dudgeon 2-70, P Subrayen 2-109)
Dolphins 269-7 (MJ Ackerman 84, SJ Erwee 66, S Muthusamy 34 not out, E Bosch 26, G Roelofsen 24; TP Kaber 3-94, GA Stuurman 2-29, JT Smuts 1-32, BD Walters 1-51)
Warriors won the toss and elected to bat
Photo: Cricket South Africa