The Knights have won their first Sunfoil Series title since 2007-08, after outclassing the Lions at the Wanderers.
It’s an incredible achievement for Nicky Boje’s men, who, for the past nine years, haven’t looked close to competing for the trophy. A number of useful additions to the side, and the rise of some exceptionally talented youngsters, have tugged it free from the clutches of the defending champions the Titans.
The Central franchise went in to the final round of Sunfoil Series matches at second, needing to pull off a big victory to leapfrog the Titans in the event that they could go on to win their match too. The Titans can indeed still win their match against the Warriors, but the Knights did exactly what was required against the Lions in Johannesburg.
It all came down to what happened in the first 100 overs, for that was where the bonus points were going to be earned. The Knights piled on a huge 435, thanks to Theunis de Bruyn’s 87 and Pite van Biljon’s century.
That left the Titans needing to get at least 315 in Benoni to stay ahead of the Knights at the top of the table. They were bowled out for 227, meaning the Knights needed only a victory from there on to seal the title.
That was all but assured when they skittled the Lions for 87, forcing them to follow on. Then, with the Lions on 193-5 in their second innings, the Knights needed only five more wickets on day three to take the crown.
They wrapped it up in the morning session, with Duanne Olivier sealing figures of 4-59. With that he became the first bowler since former Knights Dillon du Preez in 2007-08 to pass 50 wickets in a season. Fittingly, this was the last time the Knights (then the Eagles) won the title. Olivier achieved it in two matches less. It’s been an incredible season for one of the country’s brightest bowling prospects.
The innings victory was the type of clinical performance you would expect from champions, and the Knights have done it. The Titans will fight on against the Warriors, with second place the best they can hope for.
Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images