Lions maul Titans on opening day
After a few brief flutters, the bizhub Highveld Lions ended Thursday’s opening day of their Sunfoil Series match against the Nashua Titans at Benoni in a commanding position.
After bowling out the home team for just 195, they ended the day on 149 for two wickets, just 46 in arrears.
Opening bowlers Cliffe Deacon and Chris Morris were impressive, each bagging three cheap wickets as the Titans were under pressure from the start despite enjoying the advantage of winning the toss on a bright Benoni day.
Morris struck in his first over with the prized scalp of Jacques Rudolph, and the top order was soon in tatters at 30 for four.
Henry Davids and David Wiese came to the rescue with an aggressive partnership of 108, which came at over five to the over as the support bowlers were unable to maintain the same pressure.
Davids scored 62 off 84 balls, with eleven fours, before being bowled by Morris soon after lunch.
Wiese tried to marshal the tail, but had little support. He eventually fell to Eddie Leie’s legspin on 93, trying to hit a second successive six. His runs came off 106 balls and included 16 fours and a six.
Hardus Viljoen took some tap, but cleaned up the tail to finish with three wickets.
The value of the Davids-Wiese partnership was brought home by the alarming statistic that the other nine batsmen's contributions totalled just 28 runs.
Coming in to bat just before tea, the Lions were rocked as Ethy Mbhalati sent back Stephen Cook and Temba Bavuma in the space of five balls. However, they were unable to make any further inroads against veteran Neil McKenzie and Dominic Hendricks.
The pair saw the Lions to tea without further loss, and batted through the final session. The tempo slowed down a bit as the shadows lengthened.
Their fifty partnership came up off just 71 balls, but the next fifty occupied 113. Nevertheless, by the close the stand was worth 135 at a handy run rate of 3.4.
McKenzie will resume tomorrow on 70, compiled off 123 balls with nine fours, while Hendricks has also passed the half-century mark. He will resume on 57, off the same number of balls as his senior partner.
The reliance on pace bowling saw a few overs lost, but the match is already well advanced and the Lions are looking likely to force the victory which would see them go to the top of the log with two rounds of matches to follow.
TITANS: Jacques Rudolph, Francois le Clus, Henry Davids (capt), Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle (wk), David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, CJ de Villiers, Ethy Mbhalati, Rowan Richards.
LIONS: Stephen Cook (capt), Dominic Hendricks (wk), Temba Bavuma, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Thami Tsolekile, Brett Pelser, Cliffe Deacon, Christopher Morris, Hardus Viljoen, Eddie Leie.