The coastal teams all came away with a respectable draw away from home in the first round of the Sunfoil Series, but bonus points set the pace.
It was a record-breaking start to the Sunfoil summer, and one which favoured the batsmen right to the end. A total of 3 963 run were scored, and 73 wickets taken: at a whopping 54.28 per wicket.
The Knights, the defending champions, set a record for the number of centuries in an innings (in the franchise era) – four – while compiling 623-4 (the second-highest total in franchise history), while another three were registered in the Cobras‘ magnificent fightback.
So while both sides took six points each for the draw, the Knights ended top of the log, and the Cobras bottom. The devil is in the detail: the Knights gathered in 10.14 bonus points (6.14 bat, 4 bowl), while the Cobras, who collapsed to 159 in their first innings, came away with 2.18.
When you remember the Knights won the 2016-17 Sunfoil series by just 1.78 points, the equivalent of 89 runs, or three wickets, over the course of the whole season, the bonus points issue became sharply into focus*.
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince will undoubtedly be satisfied by the resilience and determination shown by his charges after their first innings debacle to gain those six points away. But he will recognise that, as as in rugby, you don’t win by defending.
It’s early days yet, but the home sides, especially the Titans and the Knights, the top two on last season’s log, will know they have to win home games.
The Highveld Lions will probably be the most relieved of the home teams after the Warriors solidly accumulated 503-8, and had a 155-run deficit going into the second innings. Despite an aggressive display by Warriors captain Jon-Jon Smuts (58 off 36 balls), the visitors erred on the side of caution and batted on to offer an improbable target of 355 in two and bit sessions.
Of the visitors, the Dolphins were the most pressed. They were set a target of 430 to win by the Titans, and had lost three wickets for 27 by the close of day three.
Credit then to Vaughn van Jaarsveld who batted for 131 balls for his 68 before losing his balance and hitting his wicket, Andile Phehlukwayo, who celebrated his call-up to the Test squad with a resolute 62 and a captain’s innings by Khaya Zondo who, with seven overs left in the day, gained his hundred after the Titans agreed to play on to allow him to score his sixth Sunfoil century.
The Log: Knights 16.14, Titans 15.62, Warriors 14.40, Lions 12.96, Dolphins 12.34, Cobras 8.18
*Bonus points are awarded in the first 100 overs of each innings: batting: one point awarded at 150 runs, and 0,02 of a point for each run thereafter.Bowling: one point at the fall of 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th wicket.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix