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Benoni – The Highveld Lions took control on the first day of their domestic four-day match against the Titans at Willowmoore Park on Thursday, and at close of play trailed by just 46 runs, with eight wickets in hand.
The Titans, who won the toss and chose to bat, were dismissed for 195 in their first innings. After their disappointment last week, when the weather robbed the Lions of what appeared to be a likely victory over their northern neighbours at the Wanderers, the Lions clearly meant to leave nothing to chance.
Chris Morris got them off to a good start, with two wickets in the first five overs, with Jacques Rudolph caught behind by Dominic Hendricks for four and Francois le Clus going the same way for two.
Cliffe Deacon continued the good work for the Lions, with Heino Kuhn trapped leg before wicket for seven and Mangaliso Mosehle caught and bowled for nought, as the hosts found themselves reeling on 30 for four.
Henry Davids and David Wiese brought the Titans back into the game with a solid fifth-wicket partnership of 108 before Morris shattered Davids' wicket for 62. It was his 34th first class century and included 11 boundaries.
Once Davids had gone, Titans' wickets began tumbling again.
Roelof van der Merwe managed just three runs before he was castled by Deacon, and Shaun von Berg followed soon after, lbw to Hardus Viljoen for eight. Viljoen also got rid of CJ de Villiers, who was bowled for one.
Wiese, meanwhile, had reached his 14th half century and appeared to be well set for his ninth first-class ton, when he was caught deep in the covers by Thami Tsolekile off Eddie Leie for 93. His departure meant that the end of the Titans' innings was not far off Rowan Richards faced just two balls before he was caught by Hendricks off Viljoen for a duck.
Deacon finished with figures of three for 32, and Morris three for 35, while Viljoen was more expensive, conceding 63 runs for his three wickets.
When Ethy Mbhalati claimed the wickets of Stephen Cook (10) and Temba Bavuma (0), with the Lions' score on 14, it appeared that the Lions might suffer a similar collapse.
But the young wicketkeeper Hendricks was joined by the veteran Neil McKenzie, and they steadied the ship with an unbeaten partnership of 135.
McKenzie moved to his 81st half century and guided Hendricks to his third.
At close of play, the Lions had 149 for two, with McKenzie not out on 70 and Hendricks on 57. – Sapa