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Johannesburg – A sixth first-class century from Temba Bavuma ensured the Highveld Lions edged the third day of their Sunfoil Series encounter against the Knights in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
The hosts racked up 313 for eight declared with right-hander Bavuma crafting a classy 132 off 193 deliveries to help set the visitors a stiff target of 369 for victory.
Proteas leg-spinner Imraan Tahir also played his part with the bat after blasting 58 off 41 balls and by the close, the Free Staters had progressed to 13 for none, needing a challenging 356 to win.
The men from Bloemfontein began the day with the bat and added 21 for the loss of one wicket in a little over eight overs before declaring Captain Ryan McLaren was the only man to fall when Garnett Kruger, who ended with six for 77, had him caught behind for 63.
The Lions then lost rising young Proteas star Quinton de Kock (one) early, before Bavuma shared vital half-century stands with Neil McKenzie (43) and Tahir, who blasted 10 fours and a six in his blistering knock.
Werner Coetsee, the pick of the Knights bowlers with four for 96, struck twice in an over prompting the second declaration of the day in the 76th over.
Openers Michael Erlank (eight) and Rudi Second negotiated a tricky six overs before the close to leave the match finely poised heading into the final day.
Earlier on Saturday, Kyle Abbott claimed five wickets to help the Dolphins complete a massive innings and 247-run victory over defending champions the Titans in Durban.
The fast bowler, who took five for 40, shared eight wickets with young paceman Calvin Savage (3/40) to leave the visitors all out for 134 just before tea.
The Titans were dismissed for 167 in their first innings at the start of the day, and the Dolphins enforced the follow-on.
The victory was the first for the KwaZulu-Natal franchise this season and lifted them into third place, while the Pretoria outfit remained rooted to the foot of the table, without a win in their four games.
The day started with the Titans losing their remaining three wickets for 11 runs when they were bowled out in 48 overs.
Craig Alexander ended as the pick of the bowlers with four for 51.
Dolphins captain Daryn Smit then asked them to bat again, and after a wretched start which saw them slip to three for three, they never recovered.
After his two for 34 in the first innings, Abbott and Mthokozisi Shezi (1/17) took three wickets in four balls to start the slump, while Savage, who bagged three for 30 earlier in the game, also showed his maturity by taking some key wickets.
Roelof van der Merwe (54 off 44 balls) fought alone to try and keep his side in the hunt, but once he fell, the home side eased to victory.
In a match completed on Friday, the Cape Cobras destroyed the Warriors by an innings and 50 runs in East London to extend their advantage at the top of the table. – Sapa