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Johannesburg – Despite the best efforts of their bowlers, the Highveld Lions were denied a crucial victory by the weather in their four-day domestic franchise series match against the Titans at the Wanderers on Sunday.
When bad light and rain stopped play just after 4pm on the final day, the Titans were reeling on 137/7 in their follow-on innings, still facing a deficit of 46 runs.
With rain having also stopped play for two hours earlier in the afternoon, the Lions apparently felt aggrieved that the weather had cost them victory and a vital extra 10 log points.
The draw left the Lions still 13 points behind the log-leading Cape Cobras, but with a game in hand.
The weekend victories of the Dolphins over the Cobras (by 15 runs) and the Warriors over the Knights (by 10 wickets) have turned the series into a three-horse race.
The Eastern Cape franchise now trails the Cobras by just 0.18 points.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir quickly wrapped up the Titans first innings on Sunday morning, taking the last two wickets as the visitors were dismissed for just 120, 183 runs behind the Lions' first innings of 303.
The home side enforced the follow-on and young fast bowlers Chris Morris and Hardus Viljoen shared six wickets as the Titans' batsmen once again struggled to cope with the movement and bounce on offer under overcast skies.
Morris bowled Pieter Malan for a single in the third over but Jacques Rudolph (25) and Henry Davids (41), the Titans' two members of the national squad, added 61 for the second wicket.
But Viljoen removed Rudolph, who edged a superb delivery that drew him forward and then nipped away into the gloves of Dominic Hendricks, keeping wicket as Thami Tsolekile rested an ankle strain, in the first over of the afternoon session.
Morris then claimed the important wicket of Davids five overs later, trapped lbw, and with Heino Kuhn (12) and David Wiese (3) also falling cheaply, the Lions were in obvious control when rain interrupted play just after the drinks break with the Titans on 128 for five.
The players returned after two hours, but the respite from the rain only lasted 13 minutes, with the Lions managing to claim the wickets of Roelof van der Merwe (4) and Shaun von Berg (5) in that time.
But the weather would have the final say as Viljoen finished with three for 25 in 13 overs and Morris took three for 54.
Mangaliso Mosehle denied the Lions attack with 30 not out, but the Titans only had the tail left to bat.
Zander de Bruyn was named the man of the match for his important innings of 65 and his two valuable wickets in the first innings. – Sapa