The front-running Highveld Lions forged ahead by taking a 72-run lead with four wickets remaining against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Friday.
If the Knights thought they were doing well when they dismissed the prolific Stephen Cook for just 19 [after a run of four hundreds in four games], they were soon brought back to earth. The next four batsmen all stepped up with fifties, helping the Lions to a score of 320-4 at the close.
After the curtailed day on Thursday, the Lions began their innings at the start of the day, and Cook was dismissed after 10 overs. But then Rassie van der Dussen (70), Dominic Hendricks (71), Neil McKenzie (72 not out) and Temba Bavuma (51) combined to reassert their authority.
It is a tried and trusted batting method employed by the Lions, for no batsman tried to up the rate: Van der Dussen led with a strike rate of 51. They will look to establish a winning lead on Saturday and let the rest fight for the scraps.
Titans v Dolphins, Centurion
The Dolphins continued to turn the screw on the Titans in the battle for second place, thanks to the Van Wyk brothers, Divan and Morne, who between them contributed 161 of their total of 314-6 at the end of the day.
Resuming the day at 51-0, chasing the Titans’ offering of 267, the Dolphins lost early wickets, and were pinned back to 149-4, at which point the Van Wyks had a joyous family reunion, putting on 68 for the fifth wicket.
When Roelof van der Merwe broke up the party, bowling Divan van Wyk on 87, Morne provided took up the cudgels. He was unbeaten at the close on 76, off 122 balls (10×4, 1×6) and found a willing partner in Calvin Savage, who contributed 36 to an unbroken stand of 81 for the seventh wicket. Also weighing with a sizable contribution was Mr Extra, who added 36 to the score with 15 wides and eight no-balls. The principal guilty party was Ethy Mbhalati, who nevertheless was the most successful bowler with 3-83 off 21 overs.
So the Dolphins will resume on Saturday with a lead of 47 and four wickets in hand. The Titans need to fight.
Cape Cobras v Warriors, Newlands
The Cobras finally found their batting form at Newlands, posting 316-3 to lead the Warriors by 28 runs in the first innings. Getting off to a good start has been a weakness for the reigning champions, but Richard Levi (79) provided a foundation and Omphile Ramela (81 not out) and Justin Ontong (75 not out) built the ramparts.
With just one win out of seven games, the Cobras really needed to assert themselves if they were to avoid the wooden spoon, and they did that emphatically. They dismissed the remaining two warriors batsmen for the addition of just 14 runs, and then settled in with an opening stand of 94 between Levi and Stiaan van Zyl (30). Andrew Puttick scored just 18, but he stayed with Ramela for 20 overs, solidly preventing any quick breakthrough.
Ramela was watchful, taking 201 balls for his 81, but Ontong was given the chance to play, hitting nien fours off 98 balls for his 75.
Perhaps now they can bat the Warriors out of the game.