Lions go top with comfortable win
The bizhub Highveld Lions shot to the top of the Sunfoil Series log with a win against the Nashua Titans at Sahara Willowmoore Park in Benoni.
Full Scorecard – Lions v Titans
Despite some early wickets on Saturday morning, veteran Neil McKenzie steered his team to victory just after the scheduled lunch break on the third day.
Set 181 for victory after bowling out the Titans for 187 in their second innings, the Lions openers, Stephen Cook and Dominic Hendricks, had raced to 74 without loss in just 14 overs by close of play on the second day.
It was a slightly different matter on the third morning. Cook added just a single to his overnight 34 before edging Ethy Mbhalati to wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle.
Chris Morris was promoted in a pinch-hitting role, and smacked two boundaries before also falling victim to Mbhalati, and when Hendricks was caught in the slips off Rowan Richards for 46, the Lions still needed 86 more with seven wickets in hand.
McKenzie and Temba Bavuma batted circumspectly, stalking the target. They had added 56 in 16 overs before Bavuma played a false shot to be caught and bowled by Shaun von Berg, but that proved to be the last wicket as the experienced Zander de Bruyn joined McKenzie in an unbroken partnership of 33 that saw the Lions over the line.
McKenzie finished on 40 made off 72 balls, and it was just his third boundary which provided the winning runs.
De Bruyn scored 11. Umpires Earl Hendrikse and Gerrie Pienaar delayed the lunch break by 15 minutes in order to reach a result.
Mbhalati produced another fine performance albeit in a losing cause, taking two for 22 and a match haul of six for 81.
However, the Titans' batting, which has been little short of shocking for a team of such talent, even in the absence of their national players, had again left the bowlers with far too little to work with.
McKenzie was named Man of the Match for his two innings of 70 and 40 not out, while Hardus Viljoen must have come into the reckoning with nine wickets while Hendricks also had a match aggregate of 103 in a low-scoring game.
The Lions have now gone to the top of the log, finishing the match with 16.04 points to take their season’s tally to 95.22. That puts them just 3.04 ahead of the Cape Cobras, while the Warriors are only 0.18 behind in third place, and the last two rounds of matches should prove enthralling with these three teams vying for the title.
The Titans have had a dreadful season. Although they finished the match with 5.9 bonus points, they are 27 points behind the Dolphins and it will be nothing short of miraculous if the defending champions are not to end last. They have now lost six of their eight matches.
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
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.