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Johannesburg - A five-wicket haul from veteran Zander de Bruyn helped the Highveld Lions take complete control on day one of their Sunfoil Series clash against the Cape Cobras in Cape Town on Thursday.
The 37-year-old claimed a superb five for 39 in 20 overs to shoot down the hosts for a below-par 224 at Newlands, with the visitors then reaching stumps on 78 for one.
There were starts for several Cobras batsmen with Stiaan van Zyl (44), Richard Levi and Dane Vilas (both 43) all getting into their 40s, but they failed to kick on as the log leaders faltered.
The Lions had begun the day by winning the toss and electing to field, but they had to wait for over an hour for their first breakthrough as De Bruyn, on as first change, drew an edge from Alistair Gray to Quinton de Kock for 15.
The opening stand of 43 proved to be the biggest as the visitors prevented any major partnerships with De Bruyn adding the wickets of Andrew Puttick (31), Justin Ontong (four), Van Zyl and Vilas to his name to leave the home team all out in 61.4 overs.
Cliffe Deacon (2/54) and axed Proteas spin bowler Imran Tahir also claimed two wickets apiece.
Openers De Kock and captain Stephen Cook (34 not out) then added 43 for the Lions as they began their reply swiftly, with the wicket of the young wicketkeeper, bowled by Charl Langeveldt for 15, the only wicket to fall.
Temba Bavuma (17) was keeping his skipper company as the men from Gauteng ended the day in the ascendency.
In the only other game that started on Thursday, half centuries from Henry Davids and Pieter Malan enabled the Titans to reach stumps on 321 for seven against the Knights in Benoni.
When the umpires called time rookie Graeme van Buuren was unbeaten on 47 and CJ de Villiers on 11.
Captain Davids fell eight short of a century as he struck 92, while opener Malan hit 65 for the only side without a win in the competition.
After winning the toss and electing to bat openers Malan and Mangaliso Mosehle compiled 52 for the opening wicket, before the latter was bowled by Quinton Friend for 32.
Davids then joined Malan, who went to his 19th first-class 50 in 117 deliveries, as the pair shared in a fine 118 run partnership, which came in 27.3 overs.
The skipper reached his own half century, the 33rd of his career, in a typically more attacking 64 balls with the partnership then broken by Dillon du Preez, the most successful visiting bowler who ended with three for 37.
Farhaan Behardien (37) added a further 62 with Davids, before the Free Staters clawed their way back by taking wickets at regular intervals.
Van Buuren, though, remained calm and by the close had added an unbroken 33 for the eighth wicket with De Villiers, leaving the Titans well-placed. - Sapa