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Durban - Five wickets from Proteas leg-spinner Imran Tahir helped the Highveld Lions take full control at the halfway stage of their Sunfoil Series match against the Dolphins in Durban on Friday.
The 33-year-old, axed from the national squad for the ongoing series against New Zealand, returned figures of five for 43 Ä his 46th career five-wicket haul Ä as the hosts were bundled out for just 155.
That was in response to the visiting team’s first innings 248, a deficit of 93, before an aggressive half-century from rising star Quinton de Kock ensured the Lions turned the screw on the Dolphins.
The young wicketkeeper struck 65 off just 61 deliveries, including two sixes and eight fours, and shared in a 110 opening stand with Stephen Cook (38) that set the Gauteng franchise on their way to reaching 151 for three by the close, a lead of 244.
Neil McKenzie was unbeaten on 15, while there were two wickets for part-time seamer Vaughn van Jaarsveld (2/47), whose team were without the injured Kyle Abbott.
Tahir had earlier looked like he was returning to his best as he conceded less than two runs to the over, ensuring he is still on the minds of the national selectors, against a home team riding high on confidence following a comprehensive win against the Titans last time out.
He produced a classic leg break to account for Khaya Zondo (13), while his other three wickets on the day helped mop up the tail.
In the other match of the round taking place in Pretoria, opener Arno Jacobs struck his 17th first-class century and a magnificent career-best 86 from rookie Ayabulela Gqamane helped the Warriors punish the Titans.
The Eastern Cape franchise, who began the day on 87 for one, ended it in a commanding 413 all out replying to the hosts’ 222 all out.
Despite Jacobs hitting 105, which helped anchor a large part of the innings, his effort was overshadowed by that of Gqamane, playing just his third match at franchise level.
The 21-year-old, who made a storming debut by taking 11 wickets in the match against the Lions last month, struck two sixes and 11 fours in his 89-ball knock and shared in a remarkable 129-run eighth wicket partnership with Simon Harmer (66 not out).
At the start, Michael Price added just 11 to his overnight total before he was out for 61, before a flurry of wickets saw the visitors slip to 131 for five.
Adrian McLaren (37) added 101 for the sixth wicket with Jacobs, followed by another double strike that left the Warriors on 265 for eight – a lead of just 43.
But Harmer and Gqamane, in particular, played a key role in extending that to 191 by the time the final wicket fell, upon which stumps were drawn.
CJ de Villiers was the pick of the bowlers with two for 56, while there were also two wickets apiece for Ethy Mbhalati (2-65) and Roelof van der Merwe (2-86). - Sapa