A sensational, record-breaking 301-run stand for the seventh wicket rescued the Lions against the Warriors, and with the Cape Cobras on the back foot against the free-scoring Dolphins, the 4-Day Franchise Series title race is wide open.
Dolphins vs Cobras
A century by Vaughn van Jaarsveld helped the Dolphins make a solid start to their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the log-leading Cape Cobras in their decisive final-round encounter in Pietermaritzburg on Monday. The hosts reached the close at the City Oval on 293 for six, thanks to the opener’s 21st career century.
Van Jaarsveld made 120 (153 balls, 16 fours, 1 six) and shared in a 111-run opening stand with Michael Erlank, who made exactly 50 (121 balls, 8 fours) in his second game for the franchise. Their partnership laid a solid foundation for the basement side Dolphins against a visiting side that needs nothing less than victory in their pursuit of a first four-day crown since 2013-14.
They went into the game with just over a three-point lead over the Highveld Lions, but were on the back foot early on as the home openers got away after losing the toss and being asked to bat first.
When their stand was eventually broken by George Linde, who was outstanding with four for 62, wickets began to fall more regularly. The Dolphins batsmen would have been kicking themselves, though, as everyone bar Sibonelo Makhanya (0), had starts.
Marques Ackerman (23) added 50 for the second wicket with Van Jaarsveld, with 55 following between the latter and captain Khaya Zondo (25) for wicket number three. After the dismissal of the centurion left the score on 226 for five, Grant Roelofsen (17) and Senuran Muthusamy (27 not out) added 38 together, with Keshav Maharaj (20 not out) keeping the latter company at the close.
Dolphins 293-6 (VB van Jaarsveld 120, MN Erlank 50, S Muthusamy 27 not out, K Zondo 25, MJ Ackerman 23, KA Maharaj 20 not out; GF Linde 4-62, D Paterson 1-58, DL Piedt 1-99)
Cape Cobras Still to bat
Cape Cobras won the toss and elected to field
Lions vs Warriors
A record-breaking 301-run seventh-wicket partnership between Bjorn Fortuin and Delano Potgieter helped the title-chasing Highveld Lions recover from a woeful start to reach stumps in a powerful position after day one of their match against the Warriors in Potchefstroom.
The hosts closed day one at Senwes Park on a superb 409 for eight after losing the toss and being asked to bat. In what was a sensational recovery, both players hit career-best centuries to help their side recover from a dire 96 for six.
Fortuin was unbeaten at stumps on 157 (206 balls, 30×4), his third career century and one that beat his previous best franchise score of 116 scored against the Titans in 2015-16. Potgieter, meanwhile, blasted 145 off 176 balls (21×4, 3×6), the highest score of his career overall in just his 12th game playing first-class cricket.
He eventually fell within half-an-hour of the close, but with his side in a powerful position in their bid to chase down the log-leading Cape Cobras. The Cobras began the final round of games just over three points ahead on the table. It was a completely different picture earlier on in the day, though, as Glenton Stuurman (4-87) ran riot with four wickets to leave the Lions in a fix.
Kagiso Rapulana (34), Temba Bavuma (22) and Stephen Cook (21) all got starts, but were out inside the first session. However, the Fortuin-Potgieter partnership completely transformed the game as they smashed the previous seventh-wicket record of 214 held by Morne van Wyk and Ryan McLaren for the Knights in 2011-12.
Sisanda Magala (3-101) claimed two wickets in two balls at the death, but the Lions still completed the day well ahead of the game.
Lions 409-8 (BC Fortuin 157 not out, D Potgieter 145, K Rapulana 34, T Bavuma 22, SC Cook 21; GA Stuurman 4-87, SSB Magala 3-101, S Langa 1-62)
Warriors Still to bat
Warriors won the toss and elected to field
Titans vs Knights
A wet outfield prevented any play possible on the opening day of the encounter between the Titans and the Knights at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Monday.
The match is the last of the first-class season for both sides, with neither having a chance of winning the title. But the two teams, who between them have won the last two four-day seasons, are bidding to end the 2018-19 term well.
There was no toss either on the East Rand as umpires Abdoellah Steenkamp and Johan Cloete waited on the go-ahead from the ground staff, which never came.
Lunch and tea were taken early, before the officials eventually decided to abandon play for the day.
Photo: Cricket South Africa