Johannesburg – The Cape Cobras officially sealed the four-day domestic series title on Saturday with Australian-like ruthlessness and efficiency, closing in on an innings victory over the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers in the process.
The Cobras, having amassed a daunting 544, dismissed the Lions for just 201 in their first innings and then reduced them to 124
for five in their follow-on.
According to the rules that govern the allocation of bonus points, the Cobras have earned a whopping 9.34 points, putting them out of reach at the top of the log even in the unlikely event of the second-placed Knights beating the Dolphins in Bloemfontein.
The Lions had begun their first innings in solid fashion, resuming on Saturday morning on 111 for one, with Rassie van der Dussen unbeaten on 68.
Opening batsman Van der Dussen had added just six to his overnight score when paceman Dane Paterson trapped him lbw, but the Lions had little inkling of the terrible collapse that would follow as Temba Bavuma and Devon Conway took them to 165 for two.
The drama started in off-spinner Dane Piedt's fifth over of the day when he had Conway smartly caught at slip by Justin Kemp for 16 and then successfully asked for an lbw verdict two balls later as he trapped Bavuma on the crease on 51.
Cobras captain Justin Ontong could not have asked for much more of his seamers as Shaheen Khan (2-32), Paterson (3-47) and Kemp (3-30) then wrapped up the rest of the innings as the Lions lost their lost eight wickets for just 36 runs.
The Lions, trailing by 343, were asked to follow on and were in early trouble as captain Stephen Cook was caught behind off Kemp for six in the second over.
Van der Dussen and Bavuma once again stood in the Cobras' way as they added 56 for the second wicket, but Piedt then had Bavuma caught close-in for 34 and added the wickets of Conway (7) and Shaylen Pillay (0) as he took his tally of victims for the competition to 43 in eight matches.
Van der Dussen had once again donned the mantle of chief obstacle to the Cobras as he ended the day on 55 not out.
In Bloemfontein, the Dolphins seemed to be easing to victory when they reduced the Knights to 329 for nine in reply to their massive first-innings total of 564 for seven declared.
Opener Reeza Hendricks had scored 103 to keep shouting in the ears of the national selectors, but wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi then took three wickets to leave the Knights facing a follow-on.
But a magnificent unbeaten last-wicket stand of 107 between Malusi Siboto (51) and Corne Dry (68) then took the Knights well past the follow-on mark and to within 128 runs of the Dolphins total.
Gihahn Cloete (83) and Gerhardt Abrahams (51) had also scored half-centuries to frustrate the Dolphins in their quest to overtake the Knights in second place on the log.
Half-centuries by Ernest Kemm (62), Qaasim Adams (89) and Grant Thomson (53) allowed the Titans to take control of their match against the Warriors at Centurion.
That trio of batsmen carried the Titans to 275 for six declared in the second innings, which meant the Warriors were chasing a formidable 395 for victory, with batting out 109 overs to save the match a more likely target.
David Wiese bowled Michael Price for 13, but otherwise the Warriors started well, reaching 46 for one in the nine overs they batted before bad light stopped play with four overs left in the day.
The Titans' dominance in this game has meant they have overtaken both the Warriors and Lions on the log, climbing into fourth place.
The Warriors made 234 in their first innings, only earning 2.68
batting points, after starting the third day on 165 for eight.
Debutant Somila Seyibokwe made a defiant 40, while Basheer Walters took the attack to the Titans bowlers in slamming 38 off 28 balls.
Wiese, with four for 52 in 21 overs, and Shaun von Berg, the leg-spinner, with three for 36 in 11 overs, were the most successful Titans bowlers. – Sapa