Andrea Agathangelou of the Titans bats during day 1 of the Sunfoil Series match against the Cobras on Thursday. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – A patient century by opener Andrea Agathangelou proved to be the highlight for the visiting Titans, on a tough opening day of their Sunfoil Series match against the Cape Cobras in Paarl, Thursday.

The two sides were separated by just five points going into the penultimate round of matches in the competition, and on what is a notoriously slow pitch and with so much at stake, very little quarter was asked or given on day one at Boland Park.

The Titans’s scoring rate barely touched three runs an over all day, but having won the toss and chosen to bat, the visitors would have been keen to both build a big first innings total, and get the pitch worn to assist their two wrist spinners; Shaun von Berg and Tabraiz Shamsi. 

By stumps, they’d reached 280/6 thanks mainly to Agathangelou’s 11th first class century, a patient effort that saw him stay the crease for over four hours and Farhaan Behardien’s as yet unbeaten 56. 

It wasn’t best start for the Titans, who strangely left out Chris Morris, who scored a century and claimed four wickets in his last match for the franchise, as they lost the wickets of Tony de Zorzi and Heino Kuhn in the first session with just 58 runs on the board. 

Heinrich Klaasen, who is captaining the Titans, then shared a crucial stand-off 111 for the third wicket with Agathangelou as the pair sought to wrestle control their team’s way. Klaasen was caught behind by Cobras wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne for 35, the start of a mini-collapse that saw the Titans lose three wickets for 18 runs in seven overs.

One of those was Agathangelou who fell for a battling, but critically important, 105 off 190 balls with 19 fours. 

Behardien and Shaun von Berg steadied the Titans ship with a partnership of 70 for the sixth wicket securing the Titans a crucial third batting bonus point in the process. Tshepo Moreki was the most successful of the Cobras bowlers, finishing the first day with 2/60 from 23 overs. 

Warriors vs Knights

Simon Harmer continued his excellent form for the Warriors in East London, where he picked up his fourth ‘five-for’ of the season as the Knights were bowled out for 188 in 59.4 overs. 

The off-spinner, who starred last year for English county side Essex when they won the County Championship, has continued his wicket-taking form since rejoining the Warriors for the four-day competition, and sits atop the wicket-taking charts.

He stretched his lead further taking 5/36 in 19.4 overs as the Warriors, who came into this round of fixtures in first place, assumed control of their match against the defending champion Knights. 

Harmer currently stands on 43 wickets which have been taken at an average of 20.67, putting him 14 ahead the Titans’ leg-spinner Shaun von Berg.  

The Knights were in trouble early after being asked to bat, losing their first three wickets with just nine runs on the board - and that was before Harmer got into his work.

Patrick Kruger scored 44 for the Knights but it was veteran all-rounder Ryan McLaren’s 73 - and the partnership of 69 he shared for the eighth wicket with Duanne Olivier (34) - which proved crucial in getting the Knights at least a bonus point for their batting.

It may prove largely insignificant however, unless they can make some more breakthroughs on Friday morning when the Warriors resume on 77/2, with Gihahn Cloete not out on 34 and Yaseen Vallie on 4.  

Lions vs Dolphins

At the Wanderers the Highveld Lions’ batting woes continued as they slumped to 45/4 in 20 overs before a half-century from Omphile Ramela helped to restore some order against the Dolphins. 

The visitors from KwaZulu Natal, who came into this match in fifth place on the log, still have an outside chance of creeping back into contention in the competition, but desperately need a win here. They were not helped by withdrawals due to injuries of Andile Phehlukwayo and Rob Frylinck while veteran Morne van Wyk was also granted leave for family reasons.

But 20 year old Okuhle Cele, with two wickets and Kerwin Mungroo with one, quickly gave the visitors the ascendancy at the ‘Bullring.’ Eathan Bosch’s dismissal of Reeza Hendricks for 27 in the 20th over, saw the hosts reduced 45/4 before Ramela produced a patient rescue act. 

A stand of 37 for fifth wicket with Dwaine Pretorius helped steady the innings before Pretorius played a loose drive and edged the ball to Vaughn van Jaarsveld at second slip to give Bosch a second wicket. 

The main partnership of the innings featured Ramela and Wiaan Mulder who added 70 for the sixth wicket before Ramela fell, to the second ball after tea, well caught at slip by Van Jaarsveld off the bowling of Senuran Muthusamy. Ramela’s 60, came in just over four hours, in which he faced 171 balls, hitting nine fours and was the 23rd half-century of his first class career. 

Mulder made 38 before giving his wicket away, caught by Dane Vilas off Muthusamy, and Mangaliso Mosehle (37*) and Aaron Phangiso (11*) were at the crease when the umpires called an end to the day’s play owing to bad light.   
Cricket writer

IOL Sport

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