CAPE TOWN – An unbeaten opening partnership of 124 between veteran Andrew Puttick and Pieter Malan ensured the Cape Cobras made significant inroads into the Titans’ massive first innings total on day two of the Sunfoil Series match in Paarl on Friday.
The visitors had declared their first innings on 435/9, with Farhaan Behardien backing up Andrea Agathangelou’s first-day century with one of his own on Friday, the ninth of his first-class career.
As is usually the case, particularly in the early stages of matches in Paarl, bat dominates ball, and the Cobras openers took advantage of batting-friendly conditions to keep themselves in touch.
It’s left the hosts trailing 311 runs going into day three, and the Titans in particular will be hoping the pitch does start to show signs of breaking up, especially as they’ve picked two spinners in their starting line-up.
However, neither Tabraiz Shamsi nor Shaun von Berg, currently the second-highest wicket-taker in the competition, could make a breakthrough on Friday as Puttick and Malan patiently set about decreasing the Titans’ lead.
At stumps, Puttick was 71 not out and Malan 49.
Much like the Titans on the first day, scoring was hard, with the run-rate hovering around 2.5 an over during the Cobras innings.
It will impact on both teams’ ability to pick up crucial bonus points – so far, the Cobras have got just the two points for bowling, while the Titans picked up 3.82 for batting.
In the main, it was Behardien who was responsible for the bulk of those batting points with a fine innings of 129 off 207 balls in just under five hours at the crease.
He struck 11 fours and one six, sharing partnerships of 70 for the sixth wicket with Shaun von Berg, 110 for the seventh with Eldred Hawken and 41 for the eighth with Malusi Siboto, which ensured the Titans posted a total in excess of 400.
Hawken spent over two hours at the crease in scoring his 52, while Siboto was not out on 27 when Heinrich Klaasen declared the innings closed.
It was a tough old slog for the bowlers, with Dane Paterson, who claimed 3/100 from 29 overs, the most successful bowler for the home side.
Lions vs Dolphins
At the Wanderers, a former resident in these parts, Dane Vilas, scored a sprightly century as the Dolphins took control of their match against the embattled Highveld Lions.
Vilas made 128 off just 152 balls as the Dolphins ended day two on 318/7, a lead of 72 runs.
Most importantly for the Dolphins, who came into this match with only an outside chance of challenging for the title, they may be able to put themselves more firmly in the mix, especially if they can add to their already impressive bonus point haul of 8.36 (4 for bowling and 4.36 for batting).
Of course they’ll need to add the 16 points for an outright victory to that figure, but they are certainly well placed in that regard.
The Lions added just 39 runs when they resumed in the morning to be bowled out for 246.
Mangaliso Mosehle led a lower-order fightback by scoring 42, while there was good support from Sean Jamison, who finished not out on 22, and even Beuran Hendricks, who was last man out on 10, but spent 43 minutes at the crease.
Eathan Bosch and young Okuhle Cele claimed three wickets each.
The Dolphins lost Sarel Erwee in the first over of their reply when he edged a full swinging delivery from Hendricks to Rassie van der Dussen at first slip.
The Lions bowlers sought to stick to that fuller length, but missed the mark far too often, allowing Vilas – somewhat surprisingly elevated to opener – and Vaughn van Jaarsveld to get their side off to a flier, despite the early loss of Erwee’s wicket.
The pair scored at more than six runs an over during their second-wicket partnership of 89, hitting a series of thumping drives through the cover and mid-off regions.
Van Jaarsveld fell for 42 (31 balls, 7x4) to the fifth ball bowled by left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso – who was brought into the attack in the 13th over.
But such was the momentum that he and Vilas provided, the Dolphins’ scoring rate didn’t drop below four an over for the remainder of the day.
Vilas was in excellent form, playing a wonderfully controlled innings to give his side the ascendancy.
His driving was pure, and his back-foot play through both off- and leg-side typically powerful.
His scoring did slow down in the second half of his innings, but it was nevertheless a dominant performance that saw him notch up the 16th century of his first-class career.
He shared a measured partnership of 150 for the third wicket with Senuran Muthusamy, who made 69 in just over four hours at the crease, striking eight fours.
Vilas fell in an action-packed over from Hendricks in which he struck three consecutive fours before miscuing a flick off the legs and top-edging the ball to Stephen Cook at mid-off.
But his innings that included 19 fours and a six has set the match up perfectly for the visitors.
Khaya Zondo fell first ball, leaving Hendricks on a hat trick, which he only just missed at the start of his next over when the ball to Sibonelo Makhanya skimmed passed the off-stump.
Colin Savage (46*) and Prenelan Subrayen (0*) will resume on Saturday, looking to extend the Dolphins lead, while adding some more bonus points before setting about trying to force home their advantage and pick up what would be an important win, which would put them right back in contention in the competition.
Warriors vs Knights
No play was possible in East London, where the Warriors were 77/2 after bowling the Knights out for 188 on Thursday. Weather-permitting, the match will resume on Saturday morning.