Lions closing in on victory

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iol spt jan5 Imran Tahir

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Imran Tahir claimed three wickets before stumps as the Highveld Lions closed in on victory over the Dolphins in their Sunfoil Series clash. Photo by Duif du Toit.

Johannesburg – Imran Tahir claimed three wickets before stumps after a superb 47th first-class century from Neil McKenzie as the Highveld Lions closed in on victory over the Dolphins in their Sunfoil Series clash in Durban on Saturday.

The leg-spinner, who was axed by the Proteas for their ongoing series against New Zealand, collected three for 35 to go with his first-innings haul of five wickets to leave the home side on 118 for five after day three.

The Dolphins were chasing an unlikely victory target of 416 after McKenzie made 125 from 204 deliveries during an innings that saw him surpass 17,000 runs Ä the third most by a South African post-isolation.

Zander de Bruyn (49) provided perfect support as the pair shared in a stand of 163 that allowed the Lions to declare on 322 for four.

By the time McKenzie had ended, he had taken his career tally to 17,059 runs, behind Jacques Kallis (19,446) and Martin van Jaarsveld (18,090) amongst the top run-scorers that made their debuts after 1992.

The Dolphins began their reply with Imraan Khan (26) and Divan van Wyk reaching 37, before Ethan O’Reilly (2/21) removed both to leave the score on 64 for two.

Tahir then left the hosts in a spin, which included taking out top-scorer Jonathan Vandiar (42) and nightwatchman Mthokozisi Shezi (nought) in the last 20 minutes, with the victory target still 298

runs away.

Earlier on Saturday, a superb six-wicket haul from Ayabulela Gqamane helped the Warriors destroy defending champions the Titans by 10 wickets inside three days in Pretoria.

The rookie fast bowler, who made a storming 11-wicket debut against the Lions last month, collected six for 40 at Centurion as the hosts were blown away for just 204 in their second innings.

They did force the visitors to bat again, but with a measly target of 14 to get, there was no stopping the Eastern Cape franchise from a massive win.

The Titans began the day with plenty to do in their second innings after the Warriors had amassed a 191 first innings lead.

They began well enough with 76 added for the first wicket by top-scorer Pieter Malan (55) and Mangaliso Mosehle (46), with an equally productive second-wicket stand between the former and captain Henry Davids (36) taking the home side to 138 for one.

At that stage, the match appeared poised to go into a fourth day, but the fall of Malan, who was bowled by Chris Jonker (2/ 21), changed the momentum.

The opener was one of nine wickets to fall for the addition of just 66 runs as the Titans slumped to a fourth loss in five games this season.

Gqamane, 23, who struck a magnificent career-best 86 batting at number 10 on Friday, was the catalyst of the collapse during a magical 13.2 over spell to take his season tally to 20 wickets in just three games.

Gurshwin Rabie (2/49) took the other wickets to fall as the second-placed Warriors (74.38) closed the gap on leaders Cape Cobras (79.58) to just 5.2 points at the summit of the table. – Sapa


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