From afar it had a strange colour scheme; green through the middle while the ends were bare and brown. The problem were the patches where the green and brown areas met; bowling from the Hennops River End seamers could target an area that looked like a puzzle, with the ball shooting through low. Cricket SA may yet send its pitch inspector to the ground to assess conditions today after 18 wickets fell on the opening day.
The Titans were unable to come to terms with the challenges of the pitch. The Cobras seamers certainly out-bowled their opponents on the first day, giving the visitors a significant advantage with a lead at stumps of 134 runs.
Jonathan Vandiar and Rivaldo Moonsamy were both victims of deliveries that spat viciously off the pitch; Moonsamy’s dismissal led Theunis de Bruyn to turn to umpire Bongani Jele, and shrug his shoulders, clearly expressing frustration with the pitch.
De Bruyn was the Titans’ best batsman scoring exactly half of their runs in what was a very good show of patience and shotmaking.
The Cobras’ bowling was outstanding and as the Titans’s poor display later showed, the ball had to be landed in the right areas to take advantage of the inconsistency and the visitors did that far more often than the hosts.
Tladi Bokako finished with 4/57 while Dane Paterson took 3/34.
Jason Smith contributed as well, taking 2/21.
The Titans did manage to land a few deliveries in troublesome areas accounting for Cobras opener Pieter Malan with one that trapped him on the ankle in front of middle stump. As for the rest the Cobras either rode their luck, or in the case of David Bedingham batted with supreme authority as Titans’ lines were woefully arry.
Bedingham, who made a magnificent century two weeks ago when the Cobras thumped the Lions at the Wanderers, produced another display that suggests he has a very bright future. This was a clinical performance in which he did not waste any of the numerous chances offered him by the Titans bowlers. He hit 13 fours and a six in his innings of 84 that lasted just 89 balls to provide the foundation for the Cobras’s reply.
His partnership of 84 for the fifth wicket with Kyle Verrynne rescued the visitors from a tricky position of 73/4, and put them well ahead in the match. Verrynne finished on 42, while there was also a useful contribution from young all-rounder Jason Smith who finished the day unbeaten on 44.
In a show of his frustration with his poor seamers, the Titans stand-in skipper Shaun von Berg, playing his 100th first class match, bowled 12 overs - his counterpart Dane Piedt only fielded the ball earlier - picking up 4/51.
See inside for scorecard