The potential Proteas opening pair of Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram gave a hint of what was possible in the Titans’ Sunfoil match against the Dolphins.
They combined to put on 184 when the Titans went in to bat for the second time, with a lead of 134 on the third day at over five an over, until Markram was bowled by the spin of Keshav Maharaj, having scored 87 off 89 balls (10×4, 2×6).
It has been a spectacular debut as captain for Markram, who scored a century in his first innings when Elgar fell on 21. Despite his age (almost 23), he has often been touted as the solution to the problematic position alongside Elgar, and he has taken the responsibility of the Titans captaincy with calm maturity.
The two responded well to the situation on Thursday after the Dolphins had put up stiff resistance, scoring 317 to avoid the follow-on in reply to the Titans’ 451-7 in their opening effort.
It meant that the Titans had to score quickly to give themselves a comfortable lead and time to attack.
Elgar went on to hammer 139 off 164 balls (15×4, 2×6) with support from another young tyro, Tony de Zorsi (57 off 56). A flurry of wickets prompted the declaration at 295-4, with a lead of 429.
The Dolphins had seven overs to see off, but Morne Morkel put them under immediate pressure, taking two wickets, while Malusi Siboto snapped up another to leave the visitors reeling on 27-3 at the close.
Meanwhile, in Bloemfontein, centuries by Hashim Amla (121) and Justin Ontong (124) gave the Cobras a fighting chance going into the final day. They still trail the Knights by 160 runs, but they at least have hope after collapsing to 159 in their first innings.
The defending champions, 551-4 overnight, batted on to allow Rudi Second and Werner Coetsee to score their hundreds, which they did within 13 overs before declaring on 623, a massive 464 ahead of the Cobras.
Coetsee was the more aggressive of the two, his 105 coming off 135 balls with 10 fours and two sixes; Second was more circumspect, batting at a rate of 57, and knocking over 11 fours. But together they put on an unbroken stand of 201 in 50 overs against what had been a highly rated Cobras attack.
In Johannesburg, the Highveld Lions restricted the Warriors to 94-3 at the close, a lead of 249 after day three. Their fight was led by Wiaan Mulder’s 79, aided and abetted by fifties from Nicky van den Bergh and Reeza Hendricks, which hauled them to within 155 of the Warriors formidable first innings of 503-8 declared.
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