The Warriors and the Lions both pulled off impressive victories in the latest round of CSA 4-Day Franchise Series matches, closing the gap on the Cape Cobras, who drew with the Knights in Bloemfontein.
Dolphins vs Lions
A final day century by Sibonelo Makhanya was not enough to save the Dolphins as they slipped to a heavy nine-wicket loss to the Highveld Lions at Kingsmead in Durban on Monday.
The right-hander made 128 (230 balls, 17×4) as the hosts were dismissed for 319 in their follow-on innings, leaving the visitors a victory target of just 46. And the Johannesburg-based side knocked off those runs in 14.1 overs thanks to an unbeaten 22 from Reeza Hendricks to reignite the title race by putting pressure on the log-leading Cape Cobras.
For the hosts, it was a fourth loss in seven games this season and came hot on the heels of beating the same opponents in the previous game. Their Achilles’ heel was undoubtedly the woeful first-innings performance with the bat that saw them shot out for just 149 in response to 423 by the Lions.
They resumed the final day already under pressure – on 209 for six and still trailing the away side by 65. Makhanya and Cody Chetty, who made 53 (81 balls, 8×4), initially batted well as they extended their seventh-wicket partnership to 94, before the stand was snapped by pick of the bowlers Beuran Hendricks (3-79).
The pair erased the deficit when they were together, and Ethan Bosch (28) gave the Dolphins hope of at least putting up some sort of a target after a stand of 35 with Makhanya.
But that was broken when Malusi Siboto (2-50) finally ended the resistance of the latter and then the former, with Wiaan Mulder (2-38) wrapping up the tail.
Player of the Match Stephen Cook (15) was the only wicket to fall in the chase, but it mattered little as the Lions cruised to a crucial win.
Lions 423 (SC Cook 130, RR Hendricks 86, K Rapulana 54, HE van der Dussen 69; S Muthusamy 4-119, E Bosch 3-77, KJ Dudgeon 2-64) & 47-1 (RR Hendricks 22 not out; SJ Erwee 1-9)
Dolphins 149 (BS Makhanya 38, MJ Ackerman 33, AL Phehlukwayo 28; MP Siboto 3-27, PWA Mulder 2-22, BC Fortuin 2-24, BE Hendricks 2-36) & 319 (BS Makhanya 128, SJ Erwee 53, C Chetty 53, AL Phehlukwayo 32, E Bosch 28; BE Hendricks 3-79, PWA Mulder 2-38, D Pretorius 2-39, MP Siboto 2-50)
The Lions won by 9 wickets
Knights vs Cape Cobras
A second successive career-best score by Keegan Petersen in the same match completed an excellent draw for the Knights against the log-leading Cape Cobras on the final day of their match in Bloemfontein.
The right-hander, who hit 161 in the first innings, went four runs better second time round by amassing an unbeaten 165 (261 balls, 18×4, 2×6) as the hosts lost just one day-four wicket at the Mangaung Oval.
There was also a century for captain Pite van Biljon, the 17th of his career after he struck 105 off 138 balls (11×4, 3×6) and shared in an unbroken third-wicket stand that was worth a fixture record 213. The Knights eventually ended on 360 for two when the skipper shook hands with opposite number Dane Piedt, whose side remain comfortably ahead of the pack at the top of the standings.
The Central Franchise started the final day on 135 for one, and there was hope for the visitors early on when Raynard van Tonder was bowled by Simon Khomari for 57 (126 balls, 9×4) with only 12 added to the overnight total. But that was as good as it got for the Cape side as Petersen, who completed his 13th and 14th first-class tons in the game, and Van Biljon dug in.
The pair surpassed the previous best third-wicket partnerships in the fixture held by Van Biljon himself and Theunis de Bruyn of 109 (2016/17), and the 200 between Justin Ontong and Stiaan van Zyl (2012/13).
The end result left the Cobras just under 20 points ahead of the Highveld Lions at the summit, with the Knights in fourth place.
Knights 319 (KD Petersen 161, RS Second 53, SC van Schalkwyk 22, T Ntuli 22 not out, ZC Qwabe 21; D Paterson 3-69, LB Williams 3-91, M Nabe 2-40, DL Piedt 1-66) & 360-2 (KD Petersen 165 not out, PJ van Biljon 105 not out, R van Tonder 57; M Nabe 1-25)
Cape Cobras 470 (DL Piedt 114, DG Bedingham 112, K Verreynne 89, M Nabe 68, JF Smith 30; SC van Schalkwyk 4-67, T Mnyaka 3-109, R McLaren 2-64)
Warriors vs Titans
A splendid five-wicket haul by Basheer Walters helped the Warriors stun defending champions the Titans by 216 runs on the final day in East London.
The fast bowler claimed an impressive five for 35 in nine overs – his eighth career five-for – as the visitors were ruthlessly dispatched for 136, sealing a second biggest win for the hosts in terms of runs over their opponents. They had been chasing an unlikely target of 353 in 45 overs after the Warriors declared their second innings earlier on 310 for five.
The Eastern Cape franchise started day four with captain Jon-Jon Smuts unbeaten on 49 and seeking quick runs to add to their 254 for five.
The skipper got his way by striking 75 (128 balls, 12×4), with good support coming from young partner Sinethemba Qeshile (27). Both ended unbeaten and shared a stand worth 66 that concluded with the declaration.
The Titans were then set on the back foot immediately as Andrea Agathangelou and Jonathan Vandiar were both removed with only five runs on the board. Both made ducks and were in fact among five Titans players who failed to trouble the scorers as Walters made merry.
Only lower order pair Shaun von Berg (37) and Corbin Bosch, who completed a second half-century of the game on his way to 59, made any meaningful contributions as their side succumbed in 45 overs.
Apart from Walters, Simon Harmer collected three for 59 in 18 overs to send the Titans tumbling to a second loss in the campaign, one that left them second bottom on the table.
Victory for the home side propelled them to third.
Warriors 408 (EM Moore 151, MY Vallie 75, LC Ngoepe 72 not out, JT Smuts 36, Qeshile † 28; C Bosch 3-48, SA Mothoa 2-37, TL Moreki 2-73, H Davids 1-26, S von Berg 1-108) & 310-5 (CN Ackermann 92, JT Smuts 75 not out, GL Cloete 63, S Qeshile 27 not out, LC Ngoepe 24; S von Berg 2-112)
Titans 366 (H Klaasen 73, H Davids 57, C Bosch 53 not out, JD Vandiar 48, S von Berg 32, SA Mothoa 32; LC Ngoepe 3-27, GA Stuurman 3-84, BD Walters 2-92) & 136 (C Bosch 59, S von Berg 37; BD Walters 5-35, SR Harmer 3-59)
Warriors won by 216 runs
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images