/ 14 October 2007

Titans, Cobras heading for a draw

The Titans had a slender first-innings lead of 10 runs with four wickets in hand when bad light stopped play on the third day of their SuperSport Series match against the Cape Cobras at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Saturday.

The Titans needed just 31 minutes to wrap up the Cobras’ innings on Saturday morning. Resuming on 356 for seven, the Cobras lost the wickets of Stiaan van Zyl, Tyron Henderson and Monde Zondeki in quick succession, with Alfonso Thomas accounting for Van Zyl and Zondeki, and Mbhalati taking the wicket of Henderson to finish with three for 84.

Van Zyl, playing in his debut match for the Cobras, finished on 74 off 192 balls.

With the likelihood of a result fading rapidly, the Titans set out to earn as many batting points as possible. While they had seemed somewhat flat and toothless in the field, they were more purposeful with the bat and accumulated their runs much faster than the visitors had done.

Maurice Aronstam and Heino Kuhn had an opening partnership of 109 that ended just before lunch when Aronstam was caught by Henry Davids off Zondeki for 52. His half century came off 75 balls and included 10 fours.

Kuhn was out shortly after lunch, caught by Gerhard Strydom off Henderson for 51. He reached his half century off 69 balls and hit nine fours, but having reached the milestone, he faced another 20 deliveries without adding to his score.

Francois ”Faf” du Plessis made a very slow 13 runs before he was given out lbw to Rory Kleinveldt. Gulam Bodi put on 11 runs before being caught by Rory Kleinveldt off Coen de Lange.

Pierre de Bruyn and skipper Martin van Jaarsveld had a fifth-wicket stand of 44 before De Bruyn was caught and bowled by Zondeki for 25.

His dismissal brought Van Jaarsveld together with Pierre Joubert, and their partnership, which lasted three hours and eight minutes, yielded 115 runs off 149 balls. Van Jaarsveld, obviously happy to be back in the Titans colours, appeared to be heading for his 37th first-class century when he was bowled 89 by Henderson for 89.

Joubert, in the meantime, reached his 10th first-class half-century off 81 balls, hitting five fours and a six. At close of play, he was not out on 77 and Alfonso Thomas had 14.

With just one day’s play left, the match appeared to be meandering towards a draw.

Finely balanced

At the Wanderers in Johannesburg, an opening partnership of 85 between the Highveld Lions’ Blake Snijman and Stephen Cook on Saturday saw the Lions make steady progress in knocking off the 95 runs they trailed the Warriors on first innings.

The partnership was going along famously as batting had appeared to become easier throughout a glorious day, until Snijman carelessly offered a catch to HD Ackerman at first-slip off Lyall Meyer, his nemesis in the first innings.

Cook then got tangled up with Alviro Petersen, and found himself run out nine runs short of his half-century.

With the sun dipping behind the Western Pavilion the umpires called the players off with Neil McKenzie on 31 and Justin Ontong on 49 — together the pair had amassed 75 for the fourth wicket, which ensured the Lions went into stumps on 204 for three enjoying an overall lead of 109.

Earlier, the Warriors resuming on their score of 189 for six, added a further 31 runs before Davie Jacobs — 46 overnight — edged a Garnett Kruger delivery to wicketkeeper Harris, but the middle-order batsman had chipped in with a 117-ball 58, which included 10 fours and a huge six that cleared cow corner.

Friedel de Wet and Harris then combined to send the other overnight batsman, Lyall Meyer, back to the dressing room, but the pair had contributed 63 for the seventh wicket when their side were in trouble on 115 for five.

A flurry of runs between Mario Olivier and Lonwabo Tsotsobe saw the men from Algoa Bay get within seven runs of the Warriors’ SuperSport record for the 10th-wicket of 48 runs before Harris pouched an easy chance from Olivier. Tsotsobe, who had claimed career-best figures of seven for 39 in the Lions’ innings, was unbeaten on 27 — his best first-class performance with the bat.

In Durban, the Eagles were poised to win their opening SuperSport Series match against the Dolphins at Kingsmead in Durban on Sunday.

The Dolphins, having been dismissed for 104 in their first innings, were set a victory target of 339 for victory late on Saturday afternoon after the Eagles declared their second innings on 169-6.

Only five balls were possible before bad light stopped play, but that was enough for left-arm seamer Brent Kops to claim the wickets of Doug Watson and Jon Kent, both for ducks. — Sapa