After four rounds of stalemate, the Titans secured the first win of the Sunfoil Series, beating the Lions by nine wickets at the Wanderers on Wednesday.
Against the run of play so far in the tournament, it was set up by the bowlers, as the Lions were bundled out for 180 and 165.
Once again it was the 21-year-old Lungi Ngidi who proved influential in setting up a victory target of just 133 on day three. He removed the two overnight batsmen, Rassie van der Duissen and Nicky van den Bergh, with just nine runs being added to the overnight score of 104-2. He had dismissed Omphile Ramela with his last over of the day on Tuesday, which gave him three wickets in 22 balls. He ended the day on 3-46 to go alongside his 6-37 in the first innings, which won him the Man of the Match award.
Malusi Siboto then stepped up to crush the rest of the Lions batting, taking four wickets in 4.1 overs on the day as the Lions fell to 165 all out. It was the first time in 13 matches in the tournament that one side had been bowled out twice.
The Proteas’ opening pair of Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram had little trouble seeing off the run-chase, putting on 85 before Hardus Viljoen claimed his 400th first-class wicket by trapping Elgar lbw for 25. Markram maintained his outstanding form by cruising on to 81 off 67 balls (13×4, 2×6) while Migael Pretorius struck three sixes in his 22 to apply the coup de grace.
The result pushes the Titans into the clouds above the log with 79.68 points, 23.84 ahead of the Lions. The Cobras vs Dolphins contest looks to be heading for another draw with the Dolphins 28 runs ahead in the second innings with nine wickets in hand.
The contest between the Warriors and the Knights, which was restricted to 40 overs in the first two days, also seems stet for a stalemate, unless there is some aggressively creative thinking.
More worryingly for the Lions is that of their five matches, three have been at home, at the Wanderers or Potchefstroom, where they really needed to win if they wanted to make an impact on the log.
The series now takes a break until 8 February to accommodate the T20 Challenge and the One-Day Cup.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix