The Cape Cobras, despite being gifted four Proteas players for the first match of the Sunfoil season, collapsed to 146 on Thursday against the Knights.
This was obviously not what the selectors intended when they released six Proteas players to get game time ahead of the first Test against England on 26 December.
As it turned out, only JP Duminy had a meaningful outing for the Cobras, although the others may say that any time in the middle is good time in the middle.
But Hashim Amla went for 10, facing 45 balls, Stiaan van Zyl for 15, off 25 balls, and Dane Piedt for 0. Duminy battled on after coming in at 76-4, digging in for just over an hour and a half, facing 84 balls for his 35. That was the top score after Andrew Puttick’s 32 as the Knights sought to put the misery of the Ram Slam behind them. Shadley van Schalkwyk found his line and rhythm to take 5-45 at just 2.6 an over.
The Knights were healthily placed at 59-1 from 25 overs, with opening batsman Letlotlo Sesele on 38.
The Highveld Lions also made heavy weather of their accumulation of 169 for five against the Dolphins at the Wanderers, stumbling along at under 2.5 runs an over. Only 69 overs were possible, the day being cut short by rain and bad light. At that run-rate, it was merciful release for the spectators.
At least Temba Bavuma, who is pencilled in for a middle-order spot against England, took advantage of the situation, scoring his 20th first-class fifty.
No one was able to build a partnership, until Bavuma (52) was joined by Dwaine Pretorius (21), and together they saw out the day, putting on 42 so far for the fifth wicket.
Calvin Savage was the thorn in the side of the Lions, taking 3-49.
An excellent 141 from Heino Kuhn and an equally impressive unbeaten 78 from Farhaan Behardien underpinned the Titans‘ first-day offering of 251-4 against the Warriors.
The hosts were teetering on the edge of collapse at 30-3 after Dean Elgar (0), another Protea who neglected his opportunity, Henry Davids (6) and Theunis de Bruyn (0) all fell to Basheeru-Deen Walters, who at that point boasted the remarkable figures of 5.1-1-6-3.
The Kuhn and Behardien set about stabilising the situation with a stand of 185 in 54 overs; when Colin Ingram weighed into dismiss Kuhn as he skied a pull. Bad light cut the day short and Behardien will resume with Grant Mokoena (19) on Friday.