Alviro Petersen stood like Horatio on the bridge on his way to an unbeaten 172 in the Highveld Lions’ total of 255-9 against the Titans in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Bad light once again ended the day early, and the Lions may come to welcome that, for they are still 39 runs in arrears. It will test the skill of Pumelela Matshikwe (5) in giving Petersen the strike when play resumes.
The next top score was 17, from No 10 batsman Eddie Leie, and no other Lions batsman was able to get above 13 as the Titans bowlers shared the spoils with Marchant de Lange the pick with 3-41, aided by Ethy Mbhalati (2-39) and Tabraiz Shamsi (2-65).
Petersen went to his 39th first-class hundred at a brisk rate, taking 145 balls with 17 fours. His 172 had come off 219 with 29 fours and a six.
The Lions seem to have a penchant for close-run matches and this top-of-the-table clash with the Titans is shaping up that way. They had dismissed the Titans for the addition of only nine runs for a final total of 294, while taking thee wickets, and were in a good position to assert themselves. They have Petersen to thank that they are still in the game.
The Knights are fighting hard against the Warriors, whose first-innings total was boosted by a fine fighting 33 from No 11 batsman Basheeru-Deen Walters.
They resumed the day at a precarious 210-9, but a stand of 42 between Walters and Simon Harmer, unbeaten on 28 at the end, gave them a target of 252 to defend. Walters obviously threw caution to the wind, taking just 39 balls with five fours and a six to frustrate the Knights.
Walters was at it again with ball in hand, taking 2-26, including Rilee Rossouw (20). Harmer was again his partner, as his spin snapped up 2-49. But Pite van Biljon (52) and Werner Coetsee (44) stopped the rot, putting 95 runs and taking the Knights to 192-5 at the close.
Down in Durban, the Cobras, at 157-5, are having to play catch-up with the Titans after they let them get away on Friday morning. The Cobras had the advantage at close of play on Thursday with the Dolphins floundering on 284-7.
The last three wickets then put on another 121, led by Keshav Maharaj’s 54, with sound and aggressive contributions from Daryn du Pavillon (44 off 58) and an unbeaten 39 off 57 from Craig Alexander.
It was left to Omphile Ramela lead the counter-attack, ending the day on 72 from 169 balls (10×4). He had good support at the start from Simon Khomari (34), as they recovered from 1-4, but when the opener became the first of Maharaj’s two victims, Ramela was pretty much on his own as support faded away.